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    #169299 09/26/13 09:11 PM
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    Melessa Offline OP
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    Today while speaking with another concerned, connected mother; I had the thought that maybe my personality is inhibiting my ability to advocate well. I am a relatively anxious person and do well with answers and a plan. I can and do follow directions and will listen to advice.

    However, besides the tester and a couple close friends; no one will listen to me (or as evidence at our last meeting- my husband). What are we doing wrong?change?

    I am afraid that this will lead to my ds not being served appropriately in school. Next week, Cogat testing. Then parent teacher conference. I'm anxious to hear from the teacher how she really sees my ds (and hopefully it will be more on par with what we see).

    Also, starting to wonder if this school is going to work for him? Lots to think about.

    Has anyone felt their personality was inhibiting advocacy? Were you able to work through it?

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    A book you might like is Robert Cialdini's "Influence". While it's not specific to the needs of gifted advocates, it does offer a fairly comprehensive discussion of techniques and principles that can be used to influence others successfully. It's a standby in organizational behaviour classes (and a personal favourite).


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    Sounds as though the first thing you need is a growth, rather than a fixed, mindset! I think advocacy skills can be learned like any others, though surely some people have a head start. I just had an appraisal at which it was pointed out that I'm lousy at negotiating (I just say Yes when people ask me to do things at work...) so I'm the last person to ask about specifics right now... but I'm learning :-)


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    Also I found out that I do much better when I advocate one on one. I was in a meeting with 2 teachers and an administrator and that meeting went poorly (understatement)...several meetings later that were one on one (different administrator, then the first one again, phone call with district person) and I got things moving. I probably could have handled another large group meeting after things started moving in the positive direction but I completely shut down at that first group meeting when things started going south.


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    I need to read that book that Aquinas recommends!

    My biggest mistake (in the past) has been in assuming that Logic is all that's needed:-

    "Here are the facts...
    ...so here are the conclusions that any right thinking person would draw"

    Was the entirely misguided approach that I used to have - and the one that I will fall into if I don't self monitor.

    What I have discovered through trial and error (mostly error - LOL) is that people need space and 'suggestion' to make decisions. Learning how to guide their conclusions when given the facts - drawing them out instead of forcing mine on them works better - duh.

    When advocating for DD I found that lots of verbalized variations on:-

    "we need to work on this as a team so as parents we are here because we need your help so that we can all work together on this"

    has got me better results than my old bull in a china shop approaches of yore. Appealing to the school staffs' human nature and finding things that they have done worthy of praise (even if it chokes you to say it) gets them to be more open too.

    In the end, though, often it takes all of the above and persistently working up the chain of command to get what you need. The sucking up/ego stroking done lower down the ladder helps, big time later, though, to get the rank and file buy in once the decision maker has been brought into line.

    Just my $0.02 YMMV


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    Melessa I have been going through the same thing but as the result of a totally different personality type. I am highly verbal and tend to beat people over the head. I do not agree to anything if presented by someone who has violated my trust in the past. I instinctively look down the road and analyze the possible repercussions of what will happen if this thing they propose - which is clearly a mistake - goes wrong. Unfortunately my "worst case scenario" assessments have come true more often than I could have ever imagined. This prevents me from being a team player and biting my tongue even when intellectually I know that would be the best course of action.

    Yes in the end I have "beaten them into submission" and gotten my DD a boat load of services including out of district placement. It has taken a huge toll on me, though. I find myself wondering all the time if I could have been just as successful without being so angry and aggressive. Sadly every time I have tried to go against my personality and not be "that parent" it has bitten my DD in the derrière. So I continue on in the way that has proven to be the most successful result wise. Every time I let my guard down even a little bit I feel like my DD pays the price. It's exhausting.

    And yes I also fall in the "logic is all that should be needed" category. Unbelievably frustrating to spell it out clearly and logically, have everyone nod their heads in agreement and understanding and then watch as it all falls apart. This is especially frustrating on the 2E end when dealing with a child whose profile is so incredibly rare that we have to constantly battle against people who don't believe her situation is real until they see it for themselves. This is usually as a result of them taking actions that I know in advance are setting her up to fail. Once you experience this a few times and have to pick up the pieces of your already fragile child being hurt yet again how can I not become "that parent" and fight like a mother bear protecting her cub?


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    I could have written Made in UK's post.

    Unfortunately, I tended (originally) to have two settings-- bashing over the head with logic, or conflict-avoidance.

    Luckily, I had one advantage that not many parents do in advocacy: an inside perspective.

    So I knew that neither of those approaches is the right one with educators. They, too, tend to be (almost overwhelmingly) conflict-avoidant to the point of being passive or passive-aggressive people. Aggression (or any signs of it) tend to be anathema.

    It's just the nature of that particular beast. The other unfortunate thing is that if you DO go the aggression route, as MiUK notes, you may lack "the spirit of the thing" down the road with the everyday players, which can only harm your child.

    Here's something to bear in mind-- I know that I do-- when I get the Grizzly Bear impulse to go all medieval on a school teacher/staffer:

    what is the VERY worst thing that could happen if I let this one go today?

    In my DD's case, I had no choice but to be Grizzly Mom in a brick and mortar setting, which is a huge reason why she isn't in one. Because there, the risk really is "DD could die today." On the other hand, this has made me much more patient and strategically clever as an advocate, because I have the perspective that while occasionally dire... her educational placement issues are, when you get right down to it, mostly of the "first world problems" variety. Not worth the cavalry on a day to day basis. Worth chipping away at, though. But not a matter for calling 911.

    That has been a hard thing to wrestle, however. The impulse as a parent is to make EVERYTHING "right" and when it isn't, to go charging in loaded for bear, so to speak. It's taken me YEARS to prioritize things, and I still (occasionally) get it wrong. I've always been great at catastrophizing, thanks in part to my own LOG and ability to see consequences down the road. While that is a useful skill, and one that I wouldn't trade (it has kept me and mine safe on more than one occasion), it also takes a toll to be chasing mice around the elephant in the center of the room. KWIM?

    Here's my secret as an advocate: I'm always professional, but I'm also relentless. Think about the line from The Shawshank Redemption: "Pressure... and time." If you can afford TIME, then let gentle pressure do its thing.

    I've only failed ONCE. It was crushing-- but it was also genuinely "no-win." So know that such things can happen-- and know the signs so that you don't emotionally overinvest in "winning" and forget that your ultimate goal is expediting what your child needs. That loss still stings many years later, I'll just add. My daughter still bridles over it, too.


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    I used to feel the same way as you about my personality or approach inhibiting my ability to negotiate (another way of thinking about advocacy). There's a classic but very good book called "Getting to Yes." (Fisher, Ury and Patton) Relatively short, available in paperback and there's also a workbook you can use to plan your approach. Reading the book changed my way of looking at these types of situations completely.

    I highly recommend reading it asap. A few key thoughts from the book and other negotiating texts.. know what you want/what your alternatives are/what they are likely worried about or trying to accomplish... be willing to be quiet and let them get uncomfortable. (The last bit really creates some interesting situations -- people do not like silence.)

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    Originally Posted by Melessa
    Today while speaking with another concerned, connected mother; I had the thought that maybe my personality is inhibiting my ability to advocate well. I am a relatively anxious person and do well with answers and a plan. I can and do follow directions and will listen to advice.

    However, besides the tester and a couple close friends; no one will listen to me (or as evidence at our last meeting- my husband). What are we doing wrong?change?

    I am afraid that this will lead to my ds not being served appropriately in school. Next week, Cogat testing. Then parent teacher conference. I'm anxious to hear from the teacher how she really sees my ds (and hopefully it will be more on par with what we see).

    Also, starting to wonder if this school is going to work for him? Lots to think about.

    Has anyone felt their personality was inhibiting advocacy? Were you able to work through it?

    Don't let these people manipulate you into blaming yourself.

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    I found the advocacy conversations before and after our sons' testing results were available were like night and day. Things that I had said that were ignored before we had the testing were suddenly considered important, and received a response. Before the testing, they didn't believe me. They were polite, but my attempts at advocating were completely shut down.

    There was apparently nothing I could say to convince them to do anything when we didn't have "proof," but after the test scores were available their attitudes toward working with us completely changed. I think they literally thought I was either lying or completely misguided before they saw the test results. Once the test results were presented by the school psychologist, we were finally able to begin to effectively advocate.

    Just stick to your main message. Think about who will be at the meeting, and see if you can start to build consensus with them before the group meeting.

    Last edited by momoftwins; 09/27/13 07:35 AM.
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