|joseloya on Flickr|
As parents of children with special needs, we learn a great deal as we fight to get our children the medical care, therapies and educational supports they need. Today I want to share three important lessons I learned in this journey.
Trust your instincts
Many parents of children with special needs hear dismissive comments when they express concerns about their children. Friends, relatives, medical providers and/or teachers tell them that their child is fine, he will grow out of it, she is just immature for her age, you are overprotective, you’re exaggerating things, etc. These comments are well-intentioned, but make us parents doubt our perceptions about our children.
You know your child better than anyone else. Unlike well-meaning friends and relatives, you see your child in different environments and situations. If you have a concern about your child’s development, you must do everything you can to make sure your concerns are properly addressed.
|Ludwigs2 on Wikimedia Commons|
Doctors and clinicians make mistakes. If you don’t agree with a particular diagnosis or lack thereof, ask questions. You don’t want to start an argument, but you do want to find out the basis for the decision. So, start with two basic questions:
- Please explain in detail why this diagnosis was/wasn’t made?
- What tests did you perform and what were the results?
When you get this information, it is research time. You want to find out the criteria for that diagnosis to be made. In addition, you want information on the tests that were performed and their accuracy. After you find and review this information, decide whether you need to set up a meeting with your child’s clinician to discuss the diagnosis.
Network with other parents
Other parents of children with special needs are a tremendous resource and most are willing to share what they know.
Some of the things other parents can help with are:
|US Dept of Education|
- Accommodations for homework that work for their children
- Explaining the IEP process
- Information on teachers and teaching assistants
- Referrals to therapists and medical providers
- Tips for transitioning to a new school
- Helpful books and websites
- Places to find sensory friendly clothing
- Names of camps and clubs that have activities for children with special needs
- Accommodations for testing
Even if other parents’ children have different diagnoses than your child, you will encounter similar issues and problems. Get to know other parents by going to parents’ association meetings, plays, sporting events and other school activities.