Advocate like a Mother

Rebecca Highton by Rebecca Highton Additional Needs

Rebecca Highton

Rebecca Highton

I am a mum of twins, one has special needs. I enjoy blogging about life and the reality of parenting.

This is a phrase I see so often, and one that resonates with me strongly. In my line of work (legal) advocacy is a pinnacle part of day to day life. The legal arguments are key, but what is often more important is the way in which you advocate.

Can you convince others, through spoken or written language, to side with you, to see your way of thinking and to agree? It sounds straight forward, but there are multiple sides to each story (often more than two) and it is not always the case that one way is right. There is not always an answer or solution.

Since becoming a mother, I have learnt to advocate far more than I ever did at law school and in some very strange circumstances. As a mother, you are often seen to be irrational or overreacting. It is as though others think that you lose all ability to think clearly and to process information once you become a mother.

Only this week, I have been told “you want solutions straight away and don’t stop to think about the wider implications”.

This follows Alfie being admitted to hospital again, seriously unwell and me voicing my opinion about what I think is the cause, and the possible solutions I would like to be considered. Me, as his mother, the person who is with him each and every day, the person who knows what her child is feeling though he is unable to verbalise it, the person who meets his needs each and every day.

And yet I was swiftly dismissed with strong implications that the doctor felt I was exaggerating Alfie’s condition, and that there was no way Alfie could be vomiting 40 times a day. Yet Alfie has lost a kilogram in under 3 weeks, and so though the doctor placed seeds of self-doubt in my head, I did not let it go. I pushed for him to have bloods done, and for a second opinion which ultimately confirmed I was right. I made sure my voice was heard and that my child got the care he needs.

I have no medical training, yet due to being a parent of a child with additional needs, I know far more than medical professionals expect. I do my research and do not let them bully me. They may not like it when I disagree, but I will not stop if I think they are wrong.

They have had the medical training, but it is me that cares for my child each day. I am the one who is expected to act as his carer despite having only been shown how to do something for half an hour (if that), so I’ll be damned if they think they can dismiss my opinions without a second thought.

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