I always assume that everyone is doing the best they can. The student is trying to be a student. Parents are trying to be parents, and are feeling stretched into being unlicensed doctors and educators. Educators are trying to be educators, and they are pulled into a healthcare space to try to figure out what operational and physical changes might be needed to successfully educate your child.
Many misunderstandings arise when student-patients and parents expect others to know more than they do. As parents, we are pulled into the world of figuring out what the doctors are telling us, trying to understand what that means medically, and using our tenuous understanding to teach the school so that they can make the appropriate accommodations.
With my background in biochemical sciences, cultural and linguistic analysis, economic research, and the law, I work to bridge the gaps in understanding between professionals with very different training from one another. Medical recommendations made without the context of the school's operational and legal framework can make reasonable accommodations appear to be unreasonable. School decisions that appear to be reasonable can sometimes cause harm to the patient. The student-patient and parents can feel frustrated and poorly served when the medical and educational professionals have trouble sorting out the confusion. And the professionals may feel frustrated when their best efforts are met with distress and anger from the patient and parents.
Parents are the key to helping everyone work together. Of understanding which professional is capable of providing what solution, and scheduling and coordinating that help. The student-patient is the key to progress and success, working productively with each member of the medical and school team. Conflicts are opportunities for the student-patient to to talk to people with whom he or she disagrees. It's a valuable life skill that Pete Seeger advocates, and that will help the student-patient successfully manage school, and life beyond.
Mari Franklin is a counselor at law who specializes in helping students secure accommodations at school.