multi-parent family, community, acceptance, advocacy, emotional labour, autism, advocacy, special education, allies, communication
Jess: Nora, I don’t know, it’s…
Evan: She never needs advocacy.
Jess: No. She’s a spitfire, yah.
Evan: She’s her own person.
Jess: And, you know, she knows her family, she knows that she has, you know, three parents. And she -I think she’s proud of us. She asks us to go on school trips, she invites us to the pow wow, so she introduces us to her friends, so really, um, with her our family is accepted, and with her friends, her community there’s really little to no advocacy needed so far.
Evan: I think, um, I think too with Fred, part of the advocacy though is a lot of emotional labour, and physical labour, really. You know, up until he was in this program, he wasn’t allowed to go on any school trip unattended. So there always had to be an adult available to go with him, you know, some mornings he just won’t get on the bus, and that’s how it is, and someone has to sort of drop everything and…
Tara: Stay home.
Evan: …figure out which one of us is gonna drive him, or stay home with him if it’s a really bad day. Um, you know, we’re always going to doctor’s appointments and specialist appointments and school meetings and trying to advocate to get a one-to-one worker for him, even in the autism program, which we successfully did but that took a lot of work. Um, and I mean, we have to be in constant communication with the teachers and yah. In many ways feels like a full time job on the side. And I can’t imagine doing it without three parents, let alone, you know. Sometimes I think if I was you know, a single parent, or you know, someone who’s also dealing with refugee and immigration stuff or if you know English wasn’t my first language, I can’t imagine trying to navigate through the school system and him the needs –his needs met. Um, I mean, my partner is a teacher who for years has been working in a special ed. high school and so we know the school board and the system and what’s available and how to fight and advocate for things, but without that knowledge I mean I can’t imagine being able to actually get any of his needs adequately met.
Jess: The teachers at our son’s school have also done a lot of advocacy for him and his needs by supporting us when he’s needed a one-to-one worker, by communicating with us, all three of us regularly on Fred’s needs, uh, you know, concerns that they have, what his day’s been like, you know, what might be happening at home, like after a day at school, if it was a bad day, a good day. So the teachers have really been integral to the advocacy part as well.