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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org