Kerridan Dougan: From Parenting to Advocacy

At Inclusion BC, we have the privilege of working with dedicated people like Kerridan Dougan, an Inclusion Advocate whose personal journey as a parent has shaped her career path and her unwavering commitment to supporting families and individuals with disabilities. Kerridan’s story is one of challenges, triumphs, and the transformative power of advocacy.

A woman and her teenage son sit at a dining table beside each other engaged in conversation while holding papers and pencils.


From Parenting to Advocacy

Kerridan’s journey into advocacy began in 2007, when her son Jack received an autism diagnosis at two years old. This pivotal moment led her to immerse herself in understanding autism and seeking the best support for her family: “I began to research and read everything I could about autism, I was consumed,” she recalls.

“It was a very challenging couple of years,” Kerridan reflects, “Jack only said a couple of words, he would lash out and scream all the time, and rarely slept. He wasn’t happy.” As Jack grew, though, Kerridan and her family learned what was needed in order to best support him. They adjusted to the knowledge that his life may look different than they’d originally thought, learned to take things one day at a time, and celebrate successes, however small they may have seemed.

As Jack grew, Kerridan’ advocacy expanded beyond her own family. She started volunteering with organizations like the Mission Association for Community Living (MACL), eventually transitioning into a Family Support Worker role. Her personal investment in helping families stems from her own experiences, making her uniquely qualified to understand and empathize with the challenges they face.


A teenage boy holds a small red learner's license sign up in front of him.Navigating School and Beyond

Kerridan’s personal advocacy journey continued to evolve as Jack navigated the school system. “Each school year has brought its own challenges, some more than others,” she recounts, “His Individual Education Plan (I.E.P) goals were often overlooked, his support was inconsistent, and he has been called derogatory names by some of his less understanding peers.” Kerridan’s determination also extended to finding alternative therapies outside of school that suit Jack’s learning style.


The Impact of Advocacy

One of the most rewarding aspects of Kerridan’s job is witnessing positive changes that alleviate the emotional burden on families. “No matter the outcome of the situation, individuals and families need to be validated and heard,” Kerridan emphasizes. Through her work, she strives to ensure that each person’s unique strengths and challenges are recognized and supported.

Jack, now 17, has become a source of inspiration for Kerridan and others. He loves playing hockey, has a growing collection of records, plays the drums, and just got his learner’s permit. Despite early challenges in school, Jack’s determination and positivity has propelled him forward. “He has a positive outlook on life, and takes any setback in stride,” says Kerridan. 

Looking to the future, Kerridan envisions a fulfilling life for Jack—one filled with opportunities to pursue his passions and ambitions. He is excited to graduate high school next year, and talks a lot about wanting to support younger generations of kids on the autism spectrum. He wants, like most of his peers, to buy a car, move out into his own apartment, to find a fulfilling career and to get married one day. 

Two parents and their teenage son sit at a white dining table with dinner in front of them. There is a small arrangement of flowers in the centre of the table.

Words of Wisdom

For parents facing similar journeys, Kerridan’s advice is simple yet profound: persevere. “Advocating for your child is a lifelong journey,” she notes. Kerridan encourages parents to take breaks when needed but to keep going.

Kerridan’s story reminds us of the transformative power of parental advocacy and the profound impact it has on shaping systems to better support people. Her journey from parenting to advocacy serves as a compelling example of how personal experiences can drive meaningful change.

Inclusion BC is privileged to have advocates like Kerridan who embody the spirit of compassion and dedication in their work. Together, we continue to strive towards a more inclusive society where every individual, regardless of ability, has the opportunity to thrive.

Do you enjoy real-life stories about inclusion? This article was featured in the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, Inclusion in Action. Subscribe today to receive regular updates with stories like this.

Our approach to advocacy is guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which recognizes the full citizenship and human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kerridan Dougan, Advocate

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