Reflections on today’s Advocacy Workshop

The workshop today was held in Colwood, Greater Victoria, on a beautiful sunny morning.  A group of parents engaged with me as we discussed the issues facing their children, and considered approaches to advocacy.

My first thought is that parent advocacy for children described as gifted is very much needed. The stories the parents shared reminded me of how essential it is for these children to have champions who will speak on their behalf.  Parenting one of these children is hard work and a lot of energy can be wasted if advocacy efforts are not targeted.

Secondly, parents of children I’ve called “mind-aloud” need to meet together and talk.  It’s not socially accepted to announce “my child is gifted” at a playgroup in the park.  Only among other parents of like-minded children can the joys and the challenges of raising exceptional children be discussed.   Collectives of parents can be empathetic, and supportive and can offer sound suggestions.  We need to find one another.

Importantly, the parent comments re-enforced my conclusion that we need to re-frame the way we talk about these “gifted” children.  We need to describe them as children whose cognitive development is not in sync with the norms for their chronological age. As long as we continue to describe these children as gifted, which suggests they are privileged and better than other children, it will be very difficult to get their special needs met.

Finally, I very much appreciated the openness of the parents who met together today, as they exchanged ideas. I also appreciated their pointing out that I spent too much time talking about legislation and considering policy documents!  I believe strongly that it’s important to understand policy in order to advocate strategically.  However, in future I must curb my enthusiasm to ensure that there’s enough time to cover all the other workshop content. Thanks to the group for reminding me of that as I prepare for the next session in Sidney on April 23rd.






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