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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.