Artwork for podcast Special Education Advocacy with Ashley Barlow
My Story
Episode 2219th January 2021 • Special Education Advocacy with Ashley Barlow • Ashley Barlow
00:00:00 00:45:22

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My divorce clients sometimes say, “I’m sorry, Ashley, but you don’t understand,” often while pushing back on some optimistic or uber-reasonable advice I’ve given.  My patent response is, “You’re right.  I’m not divorced, so I don’t understand your experience, but I’ve had a lot of experiences that have given me perspective.  I have four broken vertebrae in my back and live in chronic pain, I have a child with a disability that affects nearly all of his life activities, and my husband has had cancer.  I understand hardship, stress, and pain.  Reasonableness, objectivity, optimism – those are choices.”  In today’s podcast, I share some of my story – including the story about the accident that gave me four compression fractures in my back and Jack’s birth story-  and I deliver some of the best lessons I’ve learned as a result.  


I was fifteen when my waverunner exploded, leaving me with four compressed vertebrae and a life of chronic pain. I could have chosen negativity.  I could have chosen to be a victim.  Instead, I chose to be a survivor.  The lessons I have learned in navigating life in chronic pain and with PTSD have really yielded unwavering grit, fortitude, and relentless optimism.  


Which helped immensely when Jack was born.  The doctor told me that Jack had Down syndrome moments after he was born – when I was still on the operating table.  My response: “What do we do next.”  Sure, I’ve taken many moments to grieve throughout Jack’s life, but I always come back to, “What’s next?  What do we do to make Jack the best Jack he can be?  How do we love him more?  How do we support him more?  How do we make the world a better place for him?”  The relentless optimism – the grit – the fortitude- it’s as much for him as it is for me.  


These traits have yielded true team work with Jack’s IEP teams and have yielded so much communication and respect in his community.  


I hope that in sharing my story – or little pieces of it – that you’ll have some take aways that work in your team.  Educate.  Advocate.  Collaborate.