mosaic background behind a photo of Penny sitting at a desk and typing an email

Self-Advocacy and Disability

All of us as parents walk a thin line between supporting our kids appropriately and offering them too much support. Honestly, it’s even harder to know the balance when your child has a disability. I rush in far too readily to make things faster and easier for Penny. And almost every time, I do her a disservice. 

But the other night, when she realized that it was stressing her out to try to rush from cheer practice to ballet class, it dawned on me that she could be the one to address the problem. I asked her to write her teacher an email and copy me on it. I didn’t read the email until it showed up in my inbox:

Hey Kerry,

Ever since cheer started I have been thinking that ballet right after is a lot to handle right now. Is there any chance I could come at 6 for a warmup and then go to pointe? I feel like ever since cheer started if I leave cheer and come right to dance I don’t get a break. Is this a thing that I can do or is this a tough adjustment to have right now? I know we are starting to work on spring fest but I don’t think rehearsals are during class time on Mondays? 

Sorry to bother you with this and hopefully this is an adjustment that you can make


Her teacher wrote back to agree that she had a good suggestion. They worked it out.

It was this small thing—writing an email. And yet also a huge way to empower Penny to be what we call a self-advocate, someone who can assert agency. 

Not every kid will be able to write an email like this. But as parents (and teachers and therapists, etc.) we can look for ways to give our kids tools to speak for themselves. That might be a speech app on an iPad or pointing at one option on a picture board. Regardless of the mechanism, it was such a good reminder to get out of the way and trust Penny to be able to advocate for herself. 

Shared with Penny’s permission

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