1. You are an expert in your child
You know your child best. You have watched your child grow, tracked milestones, and sought help when your parental instinct told you something might not be quite right. You know the techniques that will calm an outburst, the language that will get your child back on task, and the myriad strategies that have helped your child reach where he or she is today. While you likely have a repertoire of therapists, doctors, and other providers in your rolodex, remember that you spend more time than anyone with your child. You are an expert in your child.
2. Don’t be afraid to seek help
Part of being an expert is knowing when to seek the support of others. If you know the service you are seeking and are looking for a provider, visit the Exceptional Lives Resource Directory and use the filters to search for someone who can help you. If you notice changes in behavior, such as school avoidance or outbursts more frequent than usual, you may recognize that you need help, but might not be sure where to start. Visit the Exceptional Lives Guides to get a personalized description of different processes and benefits that might be available to you. These How-To Guides rely on your expertise in your child to provide you with only the information relative to what you are looking for.
3. Connect with other parents
No matter how old your child is or where you are in any of the disability-related processes, know that you are not alone. Although no one walks in your shoes, there are many parents who are going through the same decisions and challenges as you are right now. Seek out other parents in your community who have been through it before – whether the “it” might be navigating the special education system in your town, transitioning from early intervention into the public schools, preparing for guardianship, or anything else that crosses your path as a parent or caregiver. Finding a network of other parents you trust can be a tremendous resource in navigating new processes and learning about activities and social groups in your neighborhood.
Most importantly, be proud of all you do to advocate for your children. We look forward to continuing our conversations in 2018!