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Palin (and Obama) Could Learn from New York Special Needs Advocates September 26, 2008

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Election, Parenting, politics, special needs.
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After the Republican National Convention, I wondered (see Sept 10th post) whether people with special needs children were likely to vote based solely on the special needs issue (like many folks who always vote strictly for the right-to-life). Had we become a similar “community”? And if so, would Palin’s promise that special needs families would have a friend and advocate in the White House convince our community to vote Republican?

A debate ensued. People ripped Palin’s past record on special needs issues (or lack of a record, as some claimed). To be fair, Obama’s record (as presented by his supporters) wasn’t outstanding either. Just because he has supported legislation in the past, doesn’t mean he will in the future. He has no personal interest. Now that Palin has her own special needs child, will she do more?

Are we really left to decide between “no past support but a motive for future support” vs. “minimal past support, but no motive for future support”? 

Both sides need to do more for the special needs community. They need to learn how to be our advocates. And they can learn a lesson from Parent to Parent in New York State (www.parenttoparentnys.org).

I learned about this great special needs advocacy group, from a flyer at SEPTA. I was curious and wanted to check them out.  So yesterday, I attended the first of what will be a monthly series of meetings, lectures, and workshops on topics of interest to special needs parents. The session was called “Ask the Advocates”.

For 2 hours, there was an open discussion, moderated by two amazing women with tons of knowledge and their own special needs “war stories”. This initial session had a small turn-out, and wound up addressing the particular needs of the handful of parents, advocates, and special needs educators in the room. 

Imagine being able to go to a place where people have walked many miles in your shoes and fought many battles you hope you’ll never need to fight. And then find them ready, willing and able to listen to your concerns and actually happy to help you. For free. This place really exists

Nice, warm special needs moms. Confident and upbeat. Obviously knowledgeable and experienced. Passionate about their work. Happy…really happy…at their jobs.  Ready and able to make a difference. Ready to make a plan for you to help you get what you need for your child. To teach you about the regulations and the programs. To put you in touch with numerous other resources if you need them.  

To be a special needs advocate…

Sarah Palin (and Obama): Are you listening?

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