Parents of children with special needs have been described as unpaid social workers, teachers, advocates, therapists and administrative assistant all wrapped up in one! There’s no doubt, it’s a big and important job. Staying organized and on top of your child’s paperwork requires you to be proactive, but it is something that you will appreciate in the long run. Here are a few tips to make your life a little easier:

1)   The binder. Run to your nearest dollar store and get a binder and some dividing tabs. Cheap but effective! (See picture below) Divide everything into subject matter and bring it to all appointments to access information in mere seconds. Wow the professionals with your organizational skills! All joking aside, having your child’s records in perfect order really helps out when sitting in appointments and someone needs a photocopy of a report or diagnosis letter. An added bonus is one less thing to stress about!


2)   The calendar. Whether it’s the one on your phone or an old fashioned appointment book, make sure it is up-to-date at all times. Don’t wait to write an appointment on the calendar. I often take my phone calls in front of our kitchen calendar and mark appointments in as I talk. On Sunday night take a quick look at your week ahead and remind everyone what is happening that week.

3)   The appointments. You are going to get a lot of phone calls from doctors, therapists, professionals and government agencies. Get a pen and piece of paper and record the following information when taking calls:

– time and date of call

– name of the person you spoke with

– name of the agency

– what is your appointment going to be about?

– who is the appointment going to be with?

– approximately how long will the appointment last?

– should I bring anything?

– what kind of services can I expect to receive?

– any other questions you may have.

Have some great organizational tips to add to our list? Please comment below, or email us at:

The Moms at AAO


Awareness – How are we doing?


As a parent of a child with special needs you have probably realized by now that a large percentage of the population do not understand your family’s situation. Even close friends and family may not understand your child’s condition entirely. So, how do you create awareness without feeling like you’re up on a soapbox? Here are some ideas:ribbon

  1. Recommend some web sites they can read.
  2. Buy them a book (One very effective one for autism is “10 Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Notbohm) Please let us know if you have any other great book ideas!
  3. Make an offer to answer any questions they may have – no judgement, no pressure!
  4. Show them ways to interact with your child to create a positive experience. Be respectful, patient and kind.

What about when you’re out in public and you get the “stare”? I’ve heard many ideas of things you can do, or not do. Here are some examples. Find one that works for you!

  1. Make small business cards or flyers with information about your child’s condition and pass it to the person. Including a web site may be helpful.
  2. Wear T-shirts, ribbons, hats, jewelry or other awareness items for your child’s condition and hope someone asks about it. Have a quick 30 second “elevator speech” prepared when people ask you questions.
  3. Ask the person politely if they have any questions about autism/cerebral palsy/Down Syndrome etc.
  4. Do nothing! Continue about your day and be happy.
  5. Smile and say hello and wait to see if they approach you.

Whatever you choose, remember to be positive and respectful. Please let us know if you have any other great ideas for creating positive awareness. We’d love to hear about them.

How do YOU create awareness? Please comment below, or email us at:

Advocacy – How Do You Do It?


As a parent of a child with special needs it is important to advocate positively for your child. In the early years you’re trying to get enough therapies & services for your child – speech, OT, physiotherapy, ABA and many more. When your child is school age, you can add educational services into the mix. Maybe you want to contact a politician and try and enlist their support. It’s a busy job, and you want to do it right. advocate

Try and remember that the large majority of people you will deal with want to help your child. Try to help them so they can help you. We’re all bound to a certain extent by the “system”. Try and build a relationship with the people around you for the long term. You never know when you may encounter that person in the future, in a different capacity.

Be organized – do prep work before attending meetings for/with your child. Write down a list of the items that you want to focus on during that meeting to keep it on track. Bring all necessary paperwork and forms and photocopy them if you need to share them with others at the meeting. Research and read any relevant information such as policies, procedures or laws. Knowledge is power!

Be patient – Take deep breaths to relax yourself before going into a meeting or a phone call. Everyone is busy so going into a meeting in a calm manner will go a long way to ensuring the best possible outcome.  Remember, the issue may not get resolved in one meeting. Book a second meeting (if necessary) to reconvene and look at the issue again after having some time away to digest the information.

Be positive – positivity breeds positivity. People will remember you for your positive attitude! A positive attitude is contagious!

Be polite and courteous (but assertive). If you didn’t get everything you wanted, don’t give up. Take a breath and come up with a new action plan. Sometimes you aren’t talking to the right person. Don’t be afraid to ask to speak with someone else.

Be thankful. When things go right don’t forget the gratitude! A small gesture can mean a lot. If someone went out of their way for your child, please make sure to let them know by calling or writing them a note. Trust me, in today’s impersonal world, you’ll make their day!

How do you advocate? Have some tips to add? Please comment below, or email us at: