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Successfully Advocating Your Child's Needs
No. 75

In order for your child to grow in to a happy, successful adult it is essential that you not only provide for their education and proper development yourself, but choose a daycare that has the best interests of the children in mind.

Children without development disorders or other special needs can have a difficult time learning and developing social skills, but it is particularly difficult with children that do have special needs. With toddlers, it is sometimes difficult to assess whether your child has special needs. If there is any doubt in your mind, you have to buck up and become an advocate for your child. This may even mean getting out of your comfort zone, but when it comes to your child it's best to take action now rather than regret that you did not later.

As a parent or legal guardian it is essential that you realize you are likely the first one who would notice any learning or development problem since you are the one who spends the most time with your child. Even when friends, teachers or family members assure you that nothing is wrong, trust your own instincts.

How can you go about advocating your child's needs? Stay in tune with his/her progress regarding learning and development. While you cannot compare his/her progress with other children, you do have a general idea of when certain milestones should be reached. Should your child be forming sentences or counting numbers by now? Might he/she have ADHD or Autism? Worrying concerns like these should be addressed with your pediatrician.

Never worry about sounding demanding or even foolish when you talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. When you feel you have legitimate concerns, make your child's care providers aware of the possible problems.

In order to make it easier on yourself to address your concerns, make a list that details how often you notice a certain behavior in your child. What time of the day is it when it happens? Are there any unusual or different circumstances in the environment that might contribute? The more you know, the more you can help others that care for your child to provide the tools and assistance he/she needs to flourish.

If and when your child is diagnosed with a learning or developmental disability, be assertive and don't be afraid to push. Your child deserves your full support, even if that means taking a strong stance and pushing when it is necessary. Your child deserves the same chance as other children for a bright future. When you become aware of potential problems, you can then share your knowledge with child care providers, family members and others who have your child in their care at various times.

This article was written by Janet Hornell, a staff member.

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