By: Peter J. Lamont, Esq.
New Jersey Business and Personal Law Attorney
Law Offices of Peter J. Lamont
To be successful in today's world it is said a person has to delegate. True enough for most matters, but what of the parents of a child with special needs?
While in the not so distant past our educational professionals could be relied upon to take care of any and all issues arising due to a child's disability, it is unrealistic and all but impossible for today's educators to fill this role. Larger class sizes, school responsibilities outside of the classroom, tight budgets and ill-equipped staff have made it essential that a third party take on the advocacy role.
More often than not the role of advocate falls to a largely unrecognized group of dedicated and loving people - the parents of a child with special needs.
Attention must be paid and recognition must be given to these people whose everyday family, work and social responsibilities and obligations are still tended to while they spend countless hours working with and for their children. It should be noted many of these advocate parents work tirelessly not only on their own children's behalf but, more often than not, on behalf of the children of others who are not as experienced or suited to the task, for whatever reason.
Overcoming incredible barriers such as ignorance, prejudice, apathy and monetary considerations as well as unimaginable stress are just part of everyday life for these people who struggle daily to ensure the best quality of life for these children.
If a child's disability is not readily evident, as is the case with learning disabilities, the parent must, more often than not, deal with a disbelieving school official. And this is only the beginning of a long road fraught with many pitfalls.
If a school will be required to provide a special learning environment, special equipment, furniture or spend any amount of a very tight budget, the parent will face a hurdle that today's economy makes it difficult to overcome. The fighting and struggling never ends, as these parents soon discover, but they adapt because they have to - for the children's sake.
More often than not, there are issues with other students that the child must face and needs help understanding and dealing with. The job falls to the parents to explain why the child is being treated in a manner totally unknown to them. And after explaining comes the more difficult, and what is a heart-breaking parental chore, that of consoler.
These unsung heroes have to wear many hats - lawyer, accountant, arbitrator, guidance counsellor and psychologist. And the most important hat of all - that of parent.
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