LifeLinks Areas of Special Needs Family Advocacy
WHAT IS educational advocacy?
Educational advocacy services are designed to further the specific educational needs of your child at any age and under any circumstance. Whether it is an infant who is not reaching expected developmental milestones or a college student trying to get needed accommodations while away at school, LifeLinks will help you steer through the challenges of educating a child with special needs.
It can be difficult at times to determine why a child is struggling in school. It may be due to a learning disability, concentration difficulty, recurring absences due to a complex medical condition, or numerous other possibilities. We understand the processes used to determine if your child needs a formal diagnosis and special education services or just needs a little extra help to stay on task. We can help you navigate the complexities of the public school special education system or determine which private school will best meet the needs of your child.
If you have concerns about your child’s development or educational performance, we can help you get answers to your questions. We will review any previous evaluation your child has received and help you articulate your concerns and priorities for your child’s education.
We will accompany you to IEP/IFSP meetings and make sure your concerns and priorities are reflected in your child’s Individualized Education Plan or Individualized Family Service Plan. We can recognize who in the room might be valuable allies and who may create obstacles. While we believe that most education professionals working with your child want what is best for the child, they can become distracted by how parts of an IEP may affect their work day or classroom. We know how to gently bring their focus back to what is important – your child’s educational needs.
Your input is vital in designing an appropriate educational plan for your child, but we know what it is like to sit in an IEP or IFSP meeting across the table from teachers, therapist, psychologists, and administrators and feel outnumbered. We know firsthand how it feels to have your concerns dismissed as irrelevant or to be treated as an overreacting parent. Our advocate will assure that your voice is heard at every meeting. You should be informed and included in all decisions regarding your child’s education. We help make that happen.
What is family consulting?
Family consulting is an important part of what we do at LifeLinks. We understand that having a child with special needs affects everyone in your family and not every issue that arises in your home can be resolved with an IEP meeting.
In many parts of your child's life a professional is involved to oversee care. Your child’s IEP or IFSP team is focused on your child’s educational development. A pediatrician addresses your child’s medical needs. There may be private therapists who are helping your child develop new life skills. But who can you trust to help you with the multitude of other issues families face? Whether its a common family stressor typical in many households or a major challenge specific to families of children with special needs, who helps you with advice, resources and expertise? We do.
LifeLinks' Special Needs Family Advocates can help you with whatever challenges come along. Our consultants have extensive experience working with complex family dynamics. They can help you recognize and respond when particular areas of your family life have become, or are at risk of becoming, critical stressors themselves.
Do everyday problems such as sibling conflicts, marital issues, financial concerns, peer relationships, or employment challenges quickly build to unmanageable levels of stress in your home? We can help.
Are you struggling to address problem behaviors your child displays at home? Are you worried your family will never be able to eat at a restaurant again? Let us problem solve with you.
Do you have concerns about sending your special needs child off to college to live away from home for the first time? We can help you prepare your child and yourself for major life changes.
What is Provider Coordination?
Frequently, families caring for a child with special needs have to deal with an unusual number of providers for their child. It can seem as though none of these providers are talking to each other and often, their reports can seem to be written in a foreign language. Doctors and therapists are able to provide better care when they are informed about the whole picture. Because we want your child’s providers to be at their best when they meet with you and your child, we go the extra mile to ensure they have the information they need to be their best. From physician reports and therapy recommendations to insurance policies and IEP reports, we can review documents and paperwork to help you understand what they mean and how to utilize them in the best interest of your child with special needs.
It can be difficult to keep track of which conversation you had with which doctor or which therapist. Did you send that form to the speech/language pathologist or the behavior therapist? Sometimes there is just too much happening to remember it all. The school occupational therapist is willing to talk with the private occupational therapist, but who will make the call? We can make it happen.
We can communicate with various providers between your visits to make your time and your child’s time with each of them more meaningful and productive. Your child’s primary doctor or pediatrician should be aware of all of the treatments or interventions your child is receiving and their progress. But in the midst of running one child to therapy, another to soccer practice, stopping at the grocery store on your way home and getting the kids bathed and ready for bed, who has time to touch base with the pediatrician? We do.
Part of keeping up with the documents includes making sure you have what you need. But leaving these important reports and documents in a drawer isn’t enough; we make sure they are working for you. It is important you understand what they say; we help you, the teachers, and the other providers interpret what the clinical jargon is really saying about your child. And if different reports provide conflicting information depending on the source, we help track down the truth and clarify the reality.
Looking at “The Big Picture” is one of our specialties! Reviewing all your documents and coordinating with all your providers helps us identify what is really going on for your child. Putting all the puzzle pieces on one table, allows everyone to see the whole picture of your child. From there, we can focus on their strengths, design supports for their weaknesses and help you develop a plan for moving forward.
Contact us to see how we can help your family's unique challenges.