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Advocating For Your Special Needs Child Part 2

Updated on April 16, 2014
Make necessary phone calls
Make necessary phone calls

Part two - Advocating for your Special Needs Child

Advocating for Your Special Needs Child – Part Two

(You may wish to read part one of advocating for your special needs child )

A good place to start is with your family doctor. Seek information on where to find help from him. Ask him for a referral letter stating the problems your child is having. This can be addressed To Whom It May Concern. Be sure to make several photocopies to have on hand. You will likely be passing it along to many agencies and/or specialists.

Your local Health Unit is also a valuable resource. Speak to someone there, read the available pamphlets, ask if they have any leads.

Speak to other moms and dads of special needs children. Learn what their recommendations are and what steps they went through to get the needed services for their child. Word of Mouth is a valuable tool and one not to be overlooked. A place to start might be the local parent teacher association meetings.

Follow your gut instincts. You know your child and understand your child more than any one else does.

Don’t take no for an answer if you feel your child needs extra help and isn’t receiving it. Speak to the teacher, principal and school administration. It may well be that you will need to contact the District School Board and speak to one of the Board of Directors.

If other schools are in your district, find out what their policies are. Check them out to see if they will offer more effective programming for your child.

Phone your local mental health association to schedule a meeting to discuss your child’s abilities and needs. They will more than likely have counseling services available for you and your child together, or sessions with the child alone. They offer anger management courses as well as many other services. There are also play therapists that have sessions with children in which the child can become comfortable in a play setting.

Find out about speech and language consultants and therapists. Schedule an assessment for your child through a speech and language therapist. Check with your hospital, school or health unit to find names and numbers of physical and occupational therapists that could assess your child.

Keep any and all documentation they provide you with. These will be valuable in getting the needed programming for your child.

If possible, take your child in for psychological testing. The more material you provide will improve your chances of getting needed assistance such as educational assistants to be assigned to your child or learning disability programming.

I know this may sound like an insurmountable mountain to climb, but it is more than worth it in the long run. When you run in to roadblocks, try another path.

If the child goes to school without any assessments done beforehand, it could take many years for the needed assessments to be completed. Time is valuable. Your time is valuable. Your child’s time is valuable.

Keep in touch with teachers and counselors. Ask for copies of all supporting documentation from the school. You, as the child’s parent, have a right to access these files but may not be given them unless you request them.

Follow up with teachers to see how your child is doing or fitting in. Don’t wait until the year is almost over to find they struggled all year without you knowing.

Ask for an IPP to be done, and Individual program plan designed for your child’s needs. Be in partnership with the professionals when setting goals and expectations for your child and milestones to be reached.

Keep communication lines open between yourself and the school personnel.

Yes, this is a huge task, but you are able to do it. There is no need to be at the school every single day, monitoring your child’s progress. Give the educators and other professionals a chance to modify programming according to your child’s needs. Allow them the time to get to know your child.

Trust me; speaking as a parent of a learning disabled child, the years do go by quickly. Advocate for your child now. Be assertive for your child. It can make all the difference between your child being placed in special programming or receiving some teacher aide time to sitting in a classroom they don’t belong in and don’t understand. When suitable goals that can be achieved are met, your child’s self-esteem will soar and they will be more willing to work on other challenges.

Above all else, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. You have helped your child in ways that you are unaware of but ways that will make a positive difference in his or her life.


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    • westernangel profile image

      westernangel 8 years ago from Canada

      Cari Jean, All the best for your daughter's kindergarten. Different school districts have big differences in how they allocate their funding. Let's hope yours is a great one and a great experience for your daughter.

      Thanks RedElf for your comments and encouragement. :)

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      Well done, angel. I can see you have had much experience and perhaps some heartache, but your strategies and determination speak of hard-won knowledge and great fortitude. Keep upo te great work, and keep writing!

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 8 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Great information - my daughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall (she has cp) it's a little scary and this info helps.