Here I would like to share one of the most important tips of being a parent of kids with special needs:
DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!!!!
It is so easy for service providers to say “that’s not on record”. Or you may forget what was discussed. And when you apply for services, they usually ask for tons of documents.
So here’s what I do:
1. When we have an important meeting, I take notes and write a summary minutes and email to all participants and others who need to know about it. That way, others may have a chance of rebuttal or correction. And I will have the evidence about who said what.
2. When I receive any kind of report (doctor’s report, school progress report, etc.), signed form, ANYTHING that takes the form of paper, I SCAN. For whatever reason, I cannot organize anything that has physical shape but I do well with computer files. I have a memory stick that store all of my son’s IEP, OT report, behavior report, etc…..now on Cloud storage so I can pullout virtually anywhere.
3. When you scan and save, give a good descriptive file name (e.g. “IEP_signed_05312013.pdf” than “img.pdf”) so you can know what these files are. This sounds cumbersome, but it was a lifesaver when I applied for SSI for my son. I just printed everything out of my scanned files and SHIPPED. If you don’t have a record, they must contact the doctors/school who has the record and get it (that takes months or may never get). Even if you keep all the paper, you still have to gather what is needed and stand in front of copy machine for a long time. Now with the advent of smartphone, such record keeping is easier than ever by taking photo. There are good apps to organize such photos (like Evernote).
4. I still keep the paper version just in case. You need to find a good system that work for you. For me, hanging folder or 3-hole binder didn’t work. I use manila envelope marked big “IEP2012″ and throw in a magazine box labled “Schools”. Likewise I throw post-scan behavior report in an envelope marked “BSP2013″ and put in a box labeled “BSP (Behavior Support Plan)” That way at least I know where to look for, but honestly, I have never looked back there. file name search is much much easier.
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