Everytime I look at the word "advocacy" I have a brief Latin etymological brain freeze moment, the result of learning Latin at the age of 13, teaching it for 20 years and translating hundreds and thousands lines of Latin poetry.
(Yes, the same thing happens with ancient Greek).
Ad is a preposition that takes the accusative and means "to" as well as "towards" and "into" and "against."
Voco is a verb (first conjugation and a good one to use for students reviewing their tenses) and means, most basically, to "call." Vox means "voice" and is clearly related to voco. I created the name AutismVox for the b5media blog at which I got my start writing online about something besides Charlie's doings (vox populi was a model). I get a bit of a kick out of seeing vox and other Latin words get resuscitated in the names of various tech companies like Voxer -- which also sounds just a bit like "boxer," which is from Middle and Old English via Proto-Germanic and the Late Latin buxis, which is from πυξίς (pyxis,“boxwood box”), which is from πύξος (pyxos, “box tree”) -- and Catullus mentions boxwood in one of my favorite poems of his, the one about the Egyptian bean-pod ship, the phaselus.
Advocacy can go in a lot of directions but it all gets back to one basic act, putting your voice to something that you think matters.
At Charlie's 30-day/IEP/Annual Review-meeting on Wednesday, Jim and I did our usual share of talking (we're professional, professorial talkers, after all), as did all other parties (the behaviorist, the case manager, the special ed teacher, the occupational therapist, the speech therapist). It was a solidly cordial, productive and informative two-plus hours as a result of which
- Charlie will, at long last, be evaluated for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and the use of an assistive device considered.
- Charlie will, for the time being, have 1:1 staff-to-student support. The behaviorist requested this. Charlie had been in a more of a 2/3:1 ratio of support at his old school and in the past few weeks at his new school but events have emerged suggesting, at least in a new environment and given the general extent of his needs, 1:1 support is called for. (We agree.)
- Charlie will be able to attend camp between the regular school year and Extended School Year (ESY), and between ESY and the start of the regular school year. The camp will be at Charlie's school with school staff. As they noted, it's best for the kids to have camp in a familiar setting and with familiar staff; they'll do things like trips to go swimming. (I felt a huge load lifted on hearing this, figuring out how to fill in those times of the year between school and ESY having been a nerve-wracking experience for Jim and me for years -- after Charlie's last day of camp last August, he ended up, by way of an ambulance, in the ER at 3am.)
Sometimes advocacy means raising your voice (as I have been on a few occasions in dealing with the insurance company, to get Charlie a visit with a pediatric neurologist regarding his medication).
It's a fine thing when advocacy means putting out your voice to discuss and dialogue and when the outcome is ways to help Charlie best use his voice (perhaps with an assistive device, someday?).