Advocating for your child with special needs
Rose Akinsehinwa March 2019
As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher, role model, primary welfare provider and the one with his/her best interest at heart. Being a parent of a child with special needs automatically makes you a natural advocate for your child. As you navigate this role you will need to:
Be well informed: Be a voracious reader in the area of your child’s needs. Read books, articles, attend seminars and watch videos. There is a lot being offered on the internet about various special needs, just be careful to filter out and consume only the facts from the pool of offerings. When you are well informed and educated, you will be able to easily identify problems and know the solutions or where and how to seek solutions.
Collaborate with school: In our present world, many parents are anxious to send their children to school so that they can pursue work and careers. Sometimes, all the work is left for the school without concrete backup from home. When you are a parent of a special needs child, you cannot afford to be lax in these affairs. Your child will need you to do homework, respond to all correspondences, read reports and have inputs into your child’s IEP. You will also need to keep all these record in an organized manner. This will form the building blocks to tracking your child’s challenges, progress and how to address any issues with the school.
Stay cool, calm and collected: doing this might be like a tall order especially when you have an overly active child or a child easily prone to tantrums. Staying calm will help your child know you are in charge. Staying cool also gives you the edge with “starrers” and “judgers” and you might have the chance to educate their ignorance.
Always have backup: if you can, invite trusted family or friends to appointments, meetings or events. They might notice things you miss; they will learn the ropes of taking care of your child so that they can effectively help when you are absent. Additionally, everyone will know you have a community of support behind you.
Know your child’s rights: many countries now have a disabilities act in their constitution. Learn about it and always demand that your child is treated fairly in school, public places and other circumstances.
Learn negotiation skills: because they will come in handy when standing for your child’s rights anywhere anytime.
Always remember, you are the best advocate your child can ever have, pleading and speaking on behalf of your child. With you in the forefront, your child, by observing you, will soon learn to advocate for him/herself pretty soon.