|I was a producer and project manager by training. Producers must communicate constantly, keep track of many moving parts, and do whatever it takes to move a project forward to its deadline. I had no idea that all these years I was secretly being trained for the role of special needs parent, but when it happened to me, those skills made it easier to deal with my new “job.”
I was lucky to find excellent support at every stage of the process, from Early Intervention to the preschool years to elementary school and beyond. New York has a very rich and knowledgeable special needs community, one of the saving graces of raising a child with challenges here. Yet I was surprised and saddened to learn that many fellow parents did not get the same support I received. They were left alone to navigate the system on their own, to figure out how to present their case at crucial meetings, to determine which school programs to tour, to cope with bureaucracy.
Over the years, I have found myself sharing this knowledge at every turn, and when enough people told me that I should put my experience to use helping others, I listened.
Since starting my consultancy practice, I have derived immense satisfaction from aiding other parents:
- I help them settle into their roles as special needs parents, coping with a sudden staff of therapists they never expected to have to supervise. I listen and offer suggestions in managing their many new demands.
- I guide them to the schools that can best support their child’s needs, offer advice on the application process, and coach them on working with their school districts.
- I direct them to relevant experts, coach them for IEP meetings to help them advocate for their children, and serve as a sounding board as they deal with their teams and set goals.
- I offer practical, research-based suggestions for meeting the unique challenges of parenting a child with special needs. I educate parents on various therapeutic approaches, including how to connect with best-practice experts to learn more.
- Most importantly, I help them cope with the complicated emotions that accompany any special needs parenting decision.
It’s been the most fulfilling work of my career.