Thursday, August 16, 2012

Knowledge Is Power

When a family member has a disability it generally impacts the “whole” family. In the beginning, family members may feel confused, isolated, frustrated and angry at the entire world. The devastation felt from the now shattered dreams planned earlier for your child has instantly become a reality in your life you just as soon not handle. The turmoil of the emotional roller coaster can be harsh. But you will be strong for yourself and your child, as you will soon be in a new land of challenges and discoveries.

To make the roller coaster a little easier to ride you must become knowledgeable. Educate yourself with regard to your child’s challenges. Ask questions and be sure you know which questions need to be answered. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity. Know how to contact the support people you may need, occupational therapy, speech and language services, physical therapy, interpreters, school personal, etc. Understand your rights and responsibilities regarding your child’s education. Get information, look at all the opportunities for choices and the consequences, good and bad that could happen. Document everything, including date, time and names of people you speak with regarding not only educational but life decisions for your child. Keep copies together, neat and organized in a 3 ring binder. Never assume you have correct information unless YOU have all the facts. Do the research. If it doesn’t happen in writing it never happened!
Finally, to become good advocates for your child, be informed about the topic you will be discussing. Speak clearly, calmly, listen and hear while others speak about information regarding your child and consider the importance of what they are hearing from you. What compromises are you willing to accept? Or not accept? And why? Remember it is a TEAM decision and discussion. If need be, ask advice from someone you trust who may have already been on a similar path you are about to travel. Knowledge is power! Become Powerful!