You probably have a lot to say about your child’s needs. It takes practice to learn how to communicate clearly and well. The better you communicate, the more helpful and respectful your relationships will be with providers and professionals. Use these tips for meetings, phone conversations, and writing letters about your child.
- At meetings, smile, introduce yourself, and shake hands.
- Bring a list of issues and concerns to discuss at the meeting, and hand it out.
- Bring a friend – two sets of ears are better than one.
- Listen carefully to what others say and take notes.
- If you don't understand something, ask for an explanation. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t understand.”
- Emphasize your child's needs instead of your own. For example, when you want a particular accommodation or modification for your child, use the phrase, "My child needs… " instead of "I want . . ."
- Talk about your child’s strengths. This way, people can focus on helping your child succeed, not just get by.
- Show a photograph of your child. Sometimes pictures are worth more than words.
- Be positive. When you are asking for a service or an accommodation, try to keep a positive attitude.
- If you don’t agree with decisions being made, speak up. Use expressions like, “I disagree.” If you get angry or upset, try to stay focused on the discussion – not the feelings. Talk about the feelings later with people that you trust.
- Try to end meetings on a positive note. If you can't come to an agreement about a particular issue, try to 'agree to disagree' about that topic. Set another meeting time or agree to continue the discussion on the telephone or via e-mail.
- Remember to thank people. Meeting your child’s special needs can be hard work for everyone.
This information is provided in part by the Division of Perinatal, Early Childhood, and Special Health Needs within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and mass.gov.