Standing up for your child with autism isn’t always easy, but every parent can learn how to be a powerful advocate and help to improve the system for those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). These key principles can help you get the services and attention that your child deserves both at school and in everyday life.
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Be A Leader
Accepting a leadership role as an advocate for your child will help to boost your position when you interact with doctors, teachers, caregivers, therapists, and others who offer services to your autistic child. You will be on a steep learning curve, and shouldn’t expect to change things overnight. If you do your best and take a leaf from the books of children’s advocacy experts, you can be a force for good.
Be An Expert
You don’t need any qualifications to become an expert on autism, as you are already an expert in your child. To be taken seriously as an advocate, you should know all the facts about everything from your child’s initial diagnosis to treatment options, educational choices, and federal and state laws that protect individuals with disabilities. You should also learn all the jargon and abbreviations that are associated with autism.
Find all the critical books, articles, and other materials on autism and special education, and read them. Find experts in the field and read what they have published. You could even consider contacting them personally as a resource too.
When you are researching autism, you find countless sources of information, from articles online, blogs, and forums to books, magazines, and newspapers. You will need to learn to weigh up what to believe and what is best for your child. Use resources, but think for yourself. Examine the evidence, and notice how your emotions can affect your thinking.
Even if you have been a confident speaker, you can practice and learn how to discuss autism with authority at school meetings, medical appointments, and in other settings. You are the best person to frame your child’s situation in the most compassionate way possible. Even if you don’t think that you’re brave, you can be an advocate when it comes to your child’s best interests.
Keeping all your documents well organized, such as your child’s initial diagnoses and their multiple evaluations throughout the year, will make your life a lot more simple and help to empower you as an advocate. Keep a file of all the important paperwork, and keep it somewhere easy to access. Take notes during any meetings with your child’s care team where you request services or discuss insurance coverage.
It can also help to keep a journal for you and your child to record their experiences. Record their strength and challenges, artwork, certificates, and so on. You can share this journal with new teachers or babysitters, and even relatives to help them get a better understanding of your child, and get a glimpse into their life.