Dec 3, 2019
For many parents, finally getting a diagnosis for your child’s condition should be a breath of fresh air. With a diagnosis, you can figure out what to do. You can find treatment. You can find support.
But, for Winifred Winston, just getting a diagnosis for her daughter was an expensive and confusing run-around. She dealt with specialists who couldn’t “assess’ her daughter’s condition even though they confirmed she had every symptom of a learning disorder. Winifred had to pay thousands just to get an “official” diagnosis and even more money getting her daughter into a school that could support her child.
Yet, in spite of these challenges, Winifred didn’t become bitter. She didn’t lose motivated and stop being the loudest and most informed advocate for her daughter.
But, Winifred also took it one step further than advocating for her child.
She became an “adversity” superhero.
She turned her financial, emotional, and paperwork struggles into advocacy. She reached out to other parents and began to form networks. She reached out to professional support groups and began to work with them.
She became more.
Oftentimes, when we find ourselves in a confusing and stressful situation, it can feel so easy to get bitter or angry. We blame “them”.We blame ourselves. She became a school administrator in a school for children with learning disabilities.
She didn’t stay in the “blame game” because blame never solves the problem. It only pushes the solution further away from you.
By taking ownership of the situation, instead of blaming others, Winifred brought solutions and connections that brought even more solutions.
That is the key. Being comfortable in providing solutions versus blame. By taking ownership of the solution, she was able to create a solution that worked for her family along with other families.
Tips from Winifred’s story that can on advocacy:
Focus on solutions while you should acknowledge blame, you should not wallow in it. As shared above, wallowing in the “blame game” gives you more blame to deal with. A better approach is to find what you need and a pathway to get there. If you don’t know a possible solution, make that your first mission.
Identify supporters, mentors, and connectors While you’re advocating, you will run across people who could play different roles in the journey. Some people will provide emotional, financial, or social support. Others will teach you important lessons, Still, others may connect you to others. Some people will play more than one role. Honor these roles in your journey. These people will help support you, as a person, and your mission.
Take care of yourself No matter what happens, make sure you take care of yourself. As Winifred pointed out, you can’t advocate effectively, if you aren’t the best version of yourself. While advocating, be sure to take care of your physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social health. Remember, a tree nourishes itself in the ground before it nourishes others.