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Our Children’s Right to Learn

By: Emma Morrissey

Many of us can recall a time in our childhood where we sat at the table, tears streaming over the math homework that we “JUST CAN’T DO!”. I remember watching my parents’ frustration and concern as these daily dramatic homework sessions continued to wear down any self-confidence and encourage a sense of failure. I don’t know what the breaking point was for them, but they realized that I needed more support with school and perhaps, that my learning style was unique. 


Recognizing the need for additional support, my parents took the initiative to seek a diagnosis independently. The revelation of an executive functioning disorder explained the struggles I faced in areas such as organization, time management, and task completion. Armed with this information, my parents embarked on the journey to advocate for the services and support that would help me thrive in the school environment such as an IEP. A journey, that didn’t conclude without a fight. 


An IEP is a legally binding, personalized document outlining the specific educational needs of a child with a disability and the services required to meet those needs. It can be a life changing resource for a child as it ensures that they will receive supports to meet their individual learning needs. IEP meetings, where the plan is developed, can be emotionally charged, and mentally draining. The reality is that not every school is equipped to readily provide the necessary resources, and convincing educators and administrators of the importance of additional support can be an uphill battle. It's not uncommon for parents to feel frustrated or overwhelmed during these meetings, wishing for a smoother process.

I once met a family who had a child with an Autism diagnosis who couldn’t get their child and IEP for over three years! It took the threat of litigation to get the school to comply and even then, they were extremely resistant to putting anything they didn’t have to in writing. 


The significance of advocating for your child's educational needs cannot be overstated. It is a fundamental right for every child to receive an education that caters to their unique learning requirements. By pushing for an IEP, parents are not only ensuring that their child receives appropriate accommodations but also fostering an environment that supports their overall well-being. No parent wants their child to experience the heartbreak of feeling inadequate in the classroom. Academic struggles can erode a child's self-confidence at an early age, affecting their perception of learning and their own abilities. By advocating for services and support, parents play a vital role in preserving and nurturing their child's self-esteem.


In the journey of securing services and support for our children's education, challenges may arise, but the importance of the cause cannot be ignored. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn and grow in an environment that caters to their unique needs. By standing up for our children, pushing for IEPs, and advocating for the services they require, we not only pave the way for their academic success but also empower them to face the future with confidence and resilience. Prior to attending my own IEP meeting, I had only seen my father yell a handful of times. To watch the softest spoken, hippie, chiropractor slam a fist on the table and raise his voice to a room full of educators and administrators was both alarming and inspiring. The point is, if your child’s school isn’t hearing you, speak louder until they do, and never shy away from bringing in outside advocates to support you. Your child deserves to feel successful in school and you deserve to have your voice heard.


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