Disabled children and adults have an imprinted connection to the experience of “being ignored”.
Many disabled adults have grown up and experienced during their childhoods being ignored, a burden, pushed aside, and/or not believed. For many disabled children, we survived by being small, quiet, invisible and blending into the background as much as possible.
As a disabled adult when advocating for your disabled children, being ignored is especially triggering.
We are teleported back in time, back to helpless children.
This time, needing to advocate, we are forced to behave in ways that are the opposite of our survival strategies.
Quite the leap.
In the book Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of A Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann with Kristen Joiner, she explains it so well:
“When someone ignores you, it’s an intentional display of power. They’re essentially acting like you don’t exist, and they do it because they can. They believe that nothing will happen to them. Ignoring silences people. It intentionally avoids resolution or compromise. It ignites your worst fears of unworthiness because it makes you feel that you deserve to be ignored. Inevitably, being ignored puts you in the position of having to choose between making a fuss or accepting the silent treatment. If you stand up to the ignorer and get in their face, you break the norms of polite behaviour and end up feeling worse, diminished, demeaned.”
Silence and delay is a common tool used in the education system to silence parents. It’s a tool used all the way from trustees, district admin, principals and teachers. Not everyone will respond in this way of course, but when you have valid issues and those issues are around discrimination, with expectations for change….get ready.
I have experienced the silent treatment a lot in earlier advocacy years and I have heard many stories from families absolutely pushed to their limits when dealing with the silent treatment, which is why I wrote this page on silence, which gets viewed regularly.
http://www.speakingupbc.com/education-advocacy/silence/ – TIPS on how manage silence.
The silent treatment is dehumanizing.
And when you are watching your children suffer and experience harm AND you are being ignored, I haven’t even found the words to describe the experience. But I can describe how it made me feel physically. Sick. Nauseous. Chronic insomnia.
I wonder if school staff really know and understand what they are doing to us?
File a complaint with Ombudsperson BC.
Keep sending emails.
Keep going up the chain.
Email the Ministry of Education and let them know you are being ignored and feel free to CC: the people who are ignoring you in the email.
They use this strategy on parents because it works.
We can’t let them feel it’s a successful strategy.
Taking up space can feel like a protest.
Take up space.
You aren’t alone.
We can all do this together and turn many single raindrops into a flood.