Advocating For My Children With Special Needs

Laura Jafri

Laura Jafri

I am very blessed with five amazing school aged children. They are all very bright and each have their own special personalities. The oldest is in 9th grade, then I have a 6th grader, 4th grader, 2nd grader and a kindergartener. This, in of itself, is a challenging household. Then, when you add the fact that two of them have special needs, that is a totally different story.

At first, I didn’t know what to expect. My only daughter (the 6th grader) has severe autism. I have learned so much from her. One thing that I have always believed was that she was very smart and I wanted her to have the best education possible. It was her right and she deserved it. WOW, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into!

Over the years, I found myself hitting many brick walls in many different areas, especially in the school system. The services that my daughter needs in order to put her anywhere near an equal playing field compared to her peers is enormous. As a parent, it was very frustrating but, not knowing any better, I would say “ok.” Well, that didn’t last too long. I quickly figured out that I don’t take no for an answer—that’s all there is to it. My child deserves the best education possible and I am going to advocate for her to make sure that is what she gets. 

That has become a huge undertaking. It doesn’t mean that it is as easy as just asking for it. I have become a very involved and proactive advocate for my child. She needs me and I am going to do it. The challenges are sometimes overwhelming for parents. Then, my youngest son was diagnosed with autism as well. Being an advocate for two children with special needs is the role that God has given me. It means endless meetings with teachers, therapists and administrators. The time commitment is huge but the emotional investment is completely overwhelming.  All any parent wants is the best for their child.  It’s so painful to feel like every day is a battle for your children. All you want is to give them the lives that they deserve but the task is great and it is life-long. 

I have been very fortunate to meet some educators right here in Owosso that are willing to travel that road with me. They are supportive and try to give me and my children what we need. You can always tell who those teachers and therapists are, because they share a sincere passion for helping your child be successful. Unfortunately, there are some that don’t share that passion. As an advocate for your children, you need to figure out who those people are and work closely with the ones that will make education both an enjoyable experience for your child, as well as a successful one. Now, I never feel like I can’t be honest with them and tell them what my expectations are. That way we can work together to achieve our goals. Then you begin the process of carrying out an education plan (IEP) that is best for your child. 

Although this process is emotionally draining it is what I need to do as my children’s advocate. It can feel like a lonely battle sometimes. I want you to know that you are not alone. I am here! If you would like additional information on this topic, you may contact me via email at I have also listed some pertinent web sites for resources on this topic below for reference.

Autism Society of Michigan

Autism Society

Autism Speaks



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