Has the school or a doctor suggested that your child may be facing challenges? Are you uncertain whether or not to pursue a medical diagnosis for your child? Unclear about what steps to take? Here are some tips to help you get started:
Take a Deep Breath!
It is not unusual to have a range of feelings when you first realize that your child may be facing challenges. Fear, guilt, feeling overwhelmed, sadness, looking for a reason why, anger…these are all common reactions. So take in a good deep breath! (Really, take a deep breath…) Know that you are not alone. There is a wealth of information, resources and compassion available for you. Take a moment…and then get ready to take action!
Gather as much information as you can. Check our Community Resources page for reputable resources. Learn about the expected milestones that children typically achieve, various challenges and what kind of help and support is available. Write down any questions you have as they arise.
Observe and Document.
You, the parent or guardian, know your child best; you observe far more than a doctor can in 20 or 30 minutes. If you begin noticing differences and delays hitting milestones in your child, document them! Include as much information as you can. Use the reporters list: who, what, where, when and why. Your notes will help both you and your pediatrician in getting the assessments required to get both a proper diagnosis and early intervention.
Talk to Your Pediatrician.
Once you’ve researched, observed and documented, bring your observations and your list of questions to your pediatrician. Pediatricians can refer you for further assessments and begin your journey towards obtaining a proper diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to talk about what your child is experiencing and how he or she is behaving. Ask questions. If possible, bring someone with you who can help take notes on the doctors responses.
Be Your Child’s Advocate.
It is never too early or too late to advocate for your child. If you disagree with a diagnosis, or a “wait-and-see” approach, speak out. Get another opinion. It’s okay to disagree, or to refuse to take “no” for an answer.
Make a Plan.
Decide what services and resources would best help your child. Early intervention is best. Meet with your doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, school staff, and make a plan with what services and specialists may be needed throughout your child’s school day and time at home.
Connect with Others.
Remember, you are not alone! Talk to others. Join a group or community where you can share your story. Talk to other families, exchange ideas and offer support for one another. Ask questions, get answers, and help others.