How to get the services and supports you need
There are two key stepping stones to success for every stage of your child’s journey from birth to adulthood
Stepping Stone #1
The first thing a parent with a child newly diagnosed with a disability must realize is they are not alone and there is a lot of information to help you understand this life-changing situation.
Even in this time of budget and service cuts, there is a large community of people and a number of information resources that can help you. As a parent, you may find out that you are your child’s best advocate because you know your child’s capabilities.
You will be interacting with a community of support professionals through schools and agencies, who care and are informed about your child’s abilities and potential. But there may be times when you will disagree with your support professional as to what your child needs.
The most important thing you can do is to gather as much information as you can to make those decisions that will help your child develop into the best person they can be. Talking with other parents, getting information from the Internet and attending conferences will help you advocate for your child. Using the resource guide in this magazine can be your first step in acquiring this knowledge.
- The NH Council on Developmental Disabilities offer many workshops, conferences, trainings and offers scholarships and grants for people who have developmental disabilities and their supports. Contact them at www.nhddc.org or call 271-3236.
- New Hampshire Family Voices produces a few resource guides that are online or in print. Contact them at www.nhfv.org or call 1-800-852-3345, ext. 4525
- The Statewide Independent Living Council of NH produces a free monthly online called Resource Letter. Find it at www.silcnh.org.
Another important step is to become involved in a community resource group or agency. They can offer you access to professionals who understand the complicated rules and procedures, your rights and the best strategies relevant your situation.
These agencies will link you to supportive families in your area and provide you with ongoing support, training and guidance in how to steer through the (sometimes overwhelming) amount of paperwork that is part of the getting the services needed by the disabled.
If you run into road blocks to getting the social services your family member needs to succeed, agencies can connect you with mediation or legal assistance groups, such as the Parent Information Center and Disability Rights Center, who can advocate for you.
Stepping Stone #2
You now see the importance of being involved with the schools and agencies that are in place to provide you and your family with the support needed to bring out the best in your child. The second step is to begin to build a relationship with these community resources.
The earlier this partnership begins the better. You may consider contacting these agencies or schools a year before your child begins working with them. Agencies will appreciate this early introduction that will put the relationship on positive footing and will lessen the chance of surprises for everyone involved.
The relationship isn’t just limited to the documentation required to enroll your child in school, program or agency; it will inform these community resources how they can best serve your family. Share with them your child’s gifts, challenges and aspirations. This relationship is ongoing; it’s important to tell them how things are going. Communicate to these professional service providers what is working and what is not and how best to improve the situation.
Remember as your child grows, their needs will change. What worked in elementary school may not be effective when they are in high school or work when they are adults. You may find that one agency doesn’t provide all the services that are needed to best serve your child. In this period of budget cuts and limited resources it’s important that you be involved as much as possible with agencies and service providers. It may take patience, perseverance and diplomacy to get the services needed for you and your family.
Today New Hampshire is a leader in having the best programs and services for the disabled. The existence of this resource community means you and your child do not have to make this journey alone. Your child can lead a full and productive life given the right support services and opportunities.