How to Be an Advocate for Your Autistic Child
- Be Informed
- Know Your Rights
- Communicate Clearly
- Document Everything
- Find Support
Being the best advocate for a child with autism requires determination and dedication. Nearly all parents want to do what’s best for their child. That task can be more difficult when the child has a challenging mental or physical condition. Fortunately, there are ways for parents to successfully speak out on behalf of their children that are both effective and empowering. Take a look below for some suggestions on speaking up for children with special needs like autism.
Related resource: Top 25 Master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Online
One of the very best ways parents can advocate for their kids is to educate themselves and to be informed. Read up on topics pertaining to autism. Find out how it can affect children in different ways. Talk to professionals to learn the clinical aspects and what they are seeing firsthand. Paying special attention to their own children and following their parental instincts is also an important step to being informed. When parents are well-informed, they can speak more confidently on behalf of their children.
Know Your Rights
According to Education Week, children whose parents advocate for them in school have a built-in advantage. This is certainly true, but parents also must know their rights in order to be sure they are receiving all of the services and accommodations that are in their child’s best interests. Without this knowledge, children can unknowingly fall into the cracks. While most educators have good intentions, their jobs can be overwhelming and there are things they can miss with so many students in their care.
Clear and effective communication can mean a great deal when being the best advocate for your child with autism. Sometimes, for parents, strong emotions can cloud their judgment and interfere with their communication. Schools can tend to use jargon or forget that they haven’t shared certain information. Taking the extra effort to speak clearly and frequently can elimination misunderstandings and frustration.
Special needs come with a lot of documentation. Everything from psychiatric evaluations, diagnostic reports and IEPs are part of staying on top of an autistic child’s needs. It’s recommended that parents bring necessary documentation with them when speaking with physicians, insurance companies and educational personnel in order to help facilitate understanding from one context to the next. Sharing this information and having something to refer to helps to improve the communication recommended in the last step.
Finally, it’s a great idea to find a support system who understands the unique experiences of autism families. These folks can bolster a parent and help them to find their voice when a little boost is needed. They can also share ideas that are helpful in speaking to those who work with their children. This type of support is invaluable.
Keep these tips in mind when supporting children with special needs. Being the best advocate for your child with special needs is a tireless, yet rewarding, job.