Supporting Your Special Needs Child in the New Year
As a parent of a special needs child, I am always trying to figure out ways that I can advocate for and provide support to him. It’s not always easy, but what worth fighting for is? For help, I ask many friends who are in the field, friends who have children with special needs themselves, and I also do tons of research on my own. Every year, I go into that New Year, new Advocate frame of mind. With the New Year approaching I assess what I have done in the last year or the last six months till now and what has worked for our situation. Here are some things that work for me:
I always remain in contact with teachers and para-educators of my special needs child
It’s important to let the teachers and paras know if any medications have changed. I also think it’s important for them to give me details on what is taking place in the classroom. Of course children act differently at home because it’s an entirely different setting but it’s helpful to know what’s going on for everyone. I can’t tell you how many times I hear parents say, “Well, she doesn’t act that way at home.” Of course she wouldn’t – at home she doesn’t have twenty-six children to be around and routines that may be suddenly changed or not, not to mention over stimulation that can be hard for children with other issues. Speak to them, you are NOT bothering them and if you feel that you are, let it go. This is your child, you need to do what is best!
Follow up on the services your special needs child is receiving
Is your child receiving services in school like O.T. (Occupational therapy), P.T. (Physical Therapy), Speech and counseling? Remain in close contact with those who are providing services. Find out if your child would benefit from extra services outside of school. Is she making consistent progress and how could you help her further? Maybe you need to make arrangements with an outside provider for weekend sessions. Therapists and other professionals can also provide feedback for tactics that can be used at home. That can assist your child, especially during those lengthy school breaks without services (holidays, winter recess, spring recess, and summer break). Simple exercises can go a long way. They can really make a difference both at home and when they return to school.
Make sure your special needs child is receiving the services that are mandated on his IEP (Individualized Education Plan)
I have found myself many times at night, reviewing my son’s IEP with a fine tooth comb. I have even expressed to school administrators that I wanted the “wording” changed as it can be very broad and NOT specific. Ask your child if he is receiving “extended time” on his tests, if necessary. A simple question like, “Are you being removed from your classroom to take your test in a separate location?” can get you some answers that you need to be sure he’s being supported as indicated on his IEP. When in doubt, present yourself at the school and ASK, ASK, ASK– DEMAND, DEMAND, DEMAND! After all, it is your RIGHT as a parent to ensure your child receives the best education possible, meeting his needs!
Make this year and every year count for your child. Get your New Year game face on and go in with a bang, determined to be the very best advocate for your child, always!!!
Let’s share: How are you going to advocate for your child differently this year?
By: Eileen C. Campos