It’s that time of year, where we find ourselves deep in the alphabet soup of the special education world. IEPs, 504s, referrals and assessments; wherever you are in the journey, these quick tips can help you thrive, not just survive, back to school meetings.
10 Tips for Advocating for Your Child
Adapted and revised from http://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/10-things-to-remember-when-advocating-for-your-special-needs-child
1. You Know Your Child Best
Regardless of what the reports say or what the professionals say, you are the parent that has been by your child’s side since day one.
The Professionals, Teachers, And Support Staff Truly Want to Help Your Child truly do have your child’s best interests at heart. They really do want to help your child. Remind yourself that they are there to work together with you, they aren’t your enemy.
3. Speak Up For Your Child If They Are Unable
This tip is especially important if your child is nonverbal and/or unable to effectively communicate their needs. Since you know your child best, it is important for you to relay the information that is going to truly help your child thrive, grow, and develop.
4. Focus on Your Child’s Strengths
Oftentimes, meetings and reports focus on the negatives: The things your child really struggles with, or cannot do. Pairing weaknesses with a strength or at least rephrase those weaknesses to be more positive sounding.
5. Keep Communication Open between Yourself, Your Child, and Your Child’s Support Team
Talk directly with the teachers or professionals and voice your concerns.
6. Embrace Your Child’s Uniqueness
Makes your child unique and what you love most about your child can help you ask for the supports and accommodations that your child needs.
7. Use Your Child’s Interests to Your Advantage
Keep your child’s interests in mind even when you are working together with the school to create an education plan for your child.
8. Advocating is Hard Work and Tiring
From signing papers to meetings and phone calls, advocating for your child is hard and exhausting; it’s ok to acknowledge it!
9. Educate, Educate, Educate!
Read, research, study and connect with other people with the same or similar diagnosis and lean on other parents to get support and help. The best way to advocate for your child is to educate yourself and those around you.
10. Don’t Lose Yourself in the Advocacy Process
Self-care is something most mothers struggle with, especially special needs mothers. But if you don’t take time to take care of yourself, you will burn yourself out. Make yourself a priority too. Take a break when you need it. You’ll become a better advocate and parent if you do.