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Rivka Caroline
BY Rivka Caroline

7 Tips for Navigating the Path of a Child with Special Needs

If it were up to me, parents who have a child with special needs would automatically win lotteries to enable them to exclusively devote their time and energy to navigate the uncharted waters of their child’s special need’s world.

But until Congress passes the “lottery ticket bill”, here are some tips to make navigating your individual child’s path more efficient and effective.

1. See who is a few steps ahead

Due to the individual nature of special needs there is a lot of research we have to custom make. However, there is also a great deal of information that we can get from parents in similar situations.  Ask your child’s therapists or principal if they can connect you with a parent whose child is similar to yours, just a few years older. While situations are as unique as our fingerprints, experience is a good teacher and most parents will be glad to share their hard earned wisdom with you.

2. Help those a few steps behind you

The Torah tells us it’s a mitzvah, and research tells us that altruism is good for our health, so if you see a child similar to your own at therapy or at pick up, ask if they would like to compare notes. You may think that everyone knows where the best horseback therapy is or that Nordstrom sells different size shoes, but that nugget of information may be saving that mom precious money and aggravation.

3. Join support groups

Your time and energy is spread thin, yet it is vital to take time to sharpen the saw. Online forums are a few clicks away for the most common and unique situations. Even logging in for a few minutes here and there will give you some hard earned  emotional support and practical tips. Besides from boosting your spirits these forums are better than Google itself in giving ‘been there, done that’ advice.  Google or check Facebook for groups that work for you.

4. Google different scholarships

While googling your child’s symptoms may slowly turn you insane, googling for scholarships might help lighten the load. There are a variety of scholarships for tuition, dental care and summer camps and more. Give yourself a recurring slot once a week or once a month to search for and apply for scholarships.

5. Have your team talk to one another

Sometimes certain therapists and specialists adore your child but are not near one another to chat at the water cooler over your child’s brilliance. By taking the time to enable specialists to talk or email you are helping your child receive more of a united approach.

Now that we are in the iPhone age  this can be as simple as one therapist leaving a one minute voice recording of what they accomplished in therapy along with any questions for the other therapist(s).

6. Make it easy to keep notes

Set up a system for you to keep notes easily. Whether it is a notepad, google documents or project management software such as Basecamp. Keep your notes in one place for easy reference and follow up.

Write down any questions or concerns immediately for simple retrieval the next time you need it. Book a weekly or monthly slot in your calendar for organizing and doing the action steps from the pile of papers.

7. Switch off

Being part of the nation that is known for having jewish guilt wired into its genes, it might seem antithetical to suggest you switch off. Yet, no-one benefits when you burn the candle at both ends. At a certain time each night commit to unplug and relax, take a warm bath or just put your feet up. After a good night’s rest you will be ready to return with vigor as the true mother lioness you are ….

They say it is what we already know that prevents us from learning. My challenge to you is to commit to take on one of the tips above and slowly take on more tips as you leverage your day to do more in less time.

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Rivka Caroline

Written on June 19, 2014 by:

Rivka Caroline is a mom, Rabbi’s wife, and Professional Time Management Consultant from Key Biscayne, Florida. Rivka is the author of 'From Frazzled to Focused' which was listed on the New York Times parenting blog @Motherlode as a Top Ten ‘must read’ for parents. She also created the ‘Focus Finder’™ planner pad. Since earning her Masters in Psychology, Rivka has worked with thousands of the busiest people in the universe. Rivka loves the relationship between time management, Torah, Chassidus and Positive Psychology and firmly believes that it takes more effort to be disorganized that it does to be organized and practices what she preaches (most of the time) as a wife and mother of seven, including one adorable son with special needs. Follow her online on her site, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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