Friday, January 22, 2010

Organizing the Special Education File: Why to start early

I'm starting to organize my child's special education file. As a parent with ADD, I know I need to start the organization process early, before it becomes overwhelming. I also know that, for me, it's more important that I have a system and stick with it than that I find the "perfect" system.

As an attorney and advocate, I know the importance of documentation and record-keeping. DH will be upset at me for thinking this far ahead – he says I jump to the worst-case scenario. I, however, would rather be prepared, and I don't think this is the same as expecting the worst. I have experience preparing for due process hearings and helping parents when things go south. The special education file is very large by this time, and preparing the paperwork can be a nightmare! I wish that this would not happen to any family, and I do not expect it to happen to mine. However, I want the special education file to be in order so that, if we should need it, it will be accessible in a format we need it later.

The final reason I want to organize the special education file is for my son. As a child, I did not fully realize I was receiving special education services. I did not know, or care, what my IEP was at the time; it was just part of growing up. When I was an adult and trying to figure myself out better, I went back to these old records. Reading the old IEPs and notes helped me to understand what therapies I needed at the time, and what accommodations I need now to function. My son may or may not want these notes, but that will be his choice when he grows up.

Next post: How I am organizing the Special Education File