10 Ways to be an Advocate for Your Special Needs Child

There are many things to consider when you have a child with special needs. Whether it is known as soon as they are born, or any delays become apparent as they grow older it can be a huge learning curve. The processes of helping your child can be overwhelming, isolating, and frustrating. Depending on the needs of your child, there may be many different appointments, therapies, education processes and meetings, and family affairs you have to consider. Being your child’s strongest and biggest advocate can become a huge part of your life.

Here are different ways you can be an advocate for your child:

Remember You Know Your Child Best

It’s most important as family, friends, strangers, doctors, therapists, teachers, and schools give suggestions, diagnoses, and advice (solicited or unsolicited) that you remember you know your child best. You should always make decisions based off what you think is best for your child. You know their needs, their behaviors, what they like or do not, you know how you can push them or not, all these factors need to go into decisions.

Be Informed

Educate yourself. Learn about your child’s disabilities or delays. Understand the complexities this may mean. For instance, Autism has so many different factors. You need to understand the diagnosis your child has but then understand how it effects your child. Then learn what your child needs to remain calm, learn, focus, be independent, etc.

Build Relationships

Build and nurture relationships with the adults that are a part of your child’s life. This can be grandparents, family members, doctors, therapists, and teachers. To have a good and open relationship with them will help you work with them to do everything that’s best for your child. It will also help you speak up when needed because you feel comfortable with them and how they will receive any dissent in your child’s care.

Stay Calm and Collected

When any moment comes that you have to step up for your child, remain calm and collected. Speak up for your child without excess of emotion or anger. If you’re angry it’s most likely going to be met with more anger or disdain. It can also be hard to get your point across if you’re too emotional. Things before you speak, write it down, keep your thoughts organized, and get what your child needs.

Set Goals and Follow Them

Set achievable goals for your family and your child. This may be behavioral goals, speech goals, movement or physical therapy goals, independent goals, anything. Set them while focusing on your child’s needs, pushing them without frustrating them. It can all be a huge game of give and take but following any goals and helping your child grow is the advocating for them to be strong and as independent as possible.

Speak Up for Your Child (Help Them Speak Up For Themselves If They Are Able To)

If something needs to be done or changed then speak up for you child if they are unable to do it for themselves. If your child can speak and express their own wants and needs, then encourage them to speak up and advocate for themselves. This is a huge, life changing, skill that will be extremely beneficial for themselves as they become adults.

Always Focus on Your Child’s Strengths

Focusing on your child’s strengths rather then weaknesses can help them build a more positive self-esteem and self-image. Also, it helps you as a parent focus on your child rather than any delays they have. While it’s important to set goals and help them grow and achieve it’s also important to love your child for who they are.

Embrace Your Child’s Uniqueness

When advocating for your child it’s important to embrace who your child is. This includes their personality, habits, and how they are unique. It’s important while parenting your child to be guided by their needs. This may change as your child does.

Educate

A huge part of advocating for your child can mean educating others about your child. This can mean helping others understand their diagnosis, behaviors, and how they can help your child when it’s needed. Educating those around your child will help them gain patience and understanding your child needs.

Don’t Lose Yourself

It’s easy when focusing on your child’s needs, especially for a child that has a lot of needs, to lose yourself in the process. Remember as a parent you cannot be there for your child if you do not take care of yourself first.

Sarah

Similar Posts:

5 Things My Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Have Taught Me

15 Truths of Parenting Special Needs Kids

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Discipline Methods That Do Not Work for Us

 


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15 thoughts on “10 Ways to be an Advocate for Your Special Needs Child

  1. Totally agree with you that it is very important to focus on the child’s strength and be able to embrace and accept his/ her uniqueness. As a mental health advocate, this is one of the advice that we give to parents who have a special needs child.

  2. I couldn’t agree with this list more! It’s easy to assume that other people especially educators are well aware of what your child’s needs are when in fact, they don’t know what they don’t know. Forming relationships with those who are working with your child is SO important! I also love the tips about staying calm, setting goals (This one is HUGE!) and focusing on the child’s strengths. It’s so hard to do when adults only see what needs to be fixed. You can be the source to remind them that your child may respond better if you focus on what they CAN do using the strengths God gave them.

  3. Yes, this is great info – we are struggling in school. I’m not sure if my child is special needs yet but at Parent-Teacher Conferences the teacher did bring up some concerns that may lead to special needs or not. So now I’m being more of an advocate for her, saying what she needs doesn’t need.

  4. I work with special needs children, and it really is so important for parents to advocate for their child! We as therapists also try our best to advocate for our clients, and we also try to coach the parents to do the same as well!

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