How to be an Advocate for Your Special Needs Child

When you have a child with special needs, it can feel overwhelming. Depending on what condition your child has it is vitally important that you learn how to be an advocate for your child. Here are some tips to help you be the advocate your child needs.



  1. Research and learn as much as you can about your child’s condition: In order to advocate for your child, you need to understand the condition that your child has. You need to understand as much as you can about the disorder or disease, first of all what it is, and why it develops. You need to know how it usually affects children, what you can expect or not expect in the future. You have to research current treatments and what you can do to help your child. It is important to get your information is a reputable source, as well, so the information is current and correct.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Your child’s physician or specialist is an excellent source of information. You should be comfortable with asking questions and satisfied with the answers they are providing. You should be gathering information from all different sources, and your doctor should be willing to help.
  3. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion: If your doctor isn’t listening to you or you feel that there may be a different way of treating your child, it is acceptable to get a second opinion. There is no one who knows everything and the doctor shouldn’t be offended if you want a second opinion. You have to do what’s best for your child and you are the one who is responsible for your child’s health and well-being.
  4. If something feels wrong to you pay attention to it: If you feel like something is not right do something about it. Don’t worry that you’re overreacting; you need to be sure when it comes to the treatment of your child. Ultimately the doctor is the one who makes the decisions about the diagnosis or treatment, and you should feel comfortable with what your doctor is saying. If you think they might be making a mistake, it is OK to question them about it, before you allow the treatment or medication.
  5. Remember no one knows your child better than you: You know your child better than anyone and if something isn’t right it is your responsibility to get the doctor or teacher to listen, pay attention, and do something about it. Whether it is testing that needs to be done, or a referral to a specialist, the doctor or teacher should be willing to get to the bottom of whatever the problem is.

You are your child’s advocate. The doctor they see, the treatment or medication they receive, and whatever intervention is necessary is up to you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and understand what and why they are suggesting, whatever it is, they’re implementing. Stay on top of your child’s condition, current treatment options, and any other way to help your child cope or recover.


12 thoughts on “How to be an Advocate for Your Special Needs Child”

  1. I love these tips, especially getting a second opinion! Since no one knows your child like you do, sometimes doctors can’t see what you do! I find with my kiddos, I’m often rushed through my appointments and I never feel heard–if I had a child with special needs, I would want to be sure I knew everything I could and had a doctor that is a good fit for our family! Thanks for the helpful tips!

  2. These are great tips to have and thank you so much for sharing. I believe its good to have a community that that helps support each other when learning how to care for children with special needs.

  3. Being a strong parent advocate for your child is important even when they do not have special needs. The fact that they have special needs means that you have to fight harder. My son had learning disabilities and ADHD and we had to fight the school several times in order to get him the help he needed. It is a constant uphill battle but totally worth it.

  4. This is a great article to remember for all parents – especially this tip – Remember no one knows your child better than you. I often second guess myself when parenting at times. I am going to share your thoughts with my coworker.

  5. This is some great advice. It can be hard when you are a new mom to a special needs child. It’s heart breaking and a struggle. Trying to figure out where to start and what questions to ask. All the changes that may need to be made! This is an awesome post! I am gonna share with some friends!

  6. This is very resourceful information. My son is ill often and I’m finding that I have to be an advocate for him as well as research and learn as much as I can. I had to go and hire an advocate for myself and depending on the outcome of certain future meetings, I may even go as far as retaining a lawyer. Thank you for this post!

  7. I have a couple friends who are parents of special needs children and it is amazing to me the difference they’ve made in their children’s lives by actively seeking out the right professionals and education plan. For all kids, it is important that the parent speak up and do what is best for the child. We are their voice!

  8. This is a fabulous post – my son was described as ‘gifted’ by the teachers that liked him – but, I thought it was his artwork – yet there was so much more to it and it’s taken years to figure it all out and I learned more about myself in the process

  9. This is a very insightful post! I don’t have any immediate family members who have this condition but I did babysit a special needs child before. It was truly a memorable experience!

  10. I know this post is focused on Special Needs Children but I think these can be important point and tips on how to be an advocate for any child as a parent. We need to speak for them when they can’t speak for or protect themselves.

  11. My sister’s child was just diagnosed with autism. Thanks for the advice about not being afraid to ask questions and gathering information. Hopefully, my sister can find a special needs advocate to help her get her daughter some help.

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