How Getting Organized Benefits Your Child
● By Hood Magazine
Your family may interact with many agencies and providers: special education staff, instructional aides, therapists, pediatricians, behavioral health providers, and more. For parents of children with special needs, good record keeping promotes informed choice, reduces the stress of navigating multiple systems, and builds confident, skilled, and effective advocacy.
Effective advocacy requires documentation: When primary providers are on leave, your records can provide critical updates to professionals filling in for the doctor, counselor, or teacher. Your records can demonstrate why certain IEP goals for your child are needed, which services need continuation, and which are not beneficial. Clear, chronological, accessible records give credibility to a request for a second evaluation or additional therapies. Records of what works for your child may lead to a positive behavior intervention plan that promotes school success and prevents suspensions. For parents applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for a child, the process seems less complex when you have records of dates and diagnoses.
Your effective, record-based advocacy can be an important model for your child. Teens and young adults are planning their futures and learning about employment, higher education, and adult healthcare systems. They will take on your job of navigating public agencies with heavy caseloads. They will need to know how to file an insurance company appeal and how to secure identification necessary for landlords and employers.
South Dakota Parent Connection has two organizational tools for families. The Folder of Information of Life Experiences (FILE) is a compact, portable storage system. The FILE’s labeled sections and checklists efficiently organize a complex array of documents: family records, developmental history, medical therapies, IFSP/IEPs, letters and contact information for professionals, and evaluations. The MyFILE is as portable and convenient and addresses the needs of youth who are learning independence and self-advocacy. The FILE is available, free of charge, to any South Dakota family with a child who has a disability or special health care need. The MyFILE is available to youth through YOUth Retreats, fun and information training events for youth and a parent(s).