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4 Tips for Researching a Child’s Special Needs

After a child receives a special needs diagnosis–whether for a physical, cognitive, mental, or behavioral condition–many parents want to learn more about it. By employing some of the tips below, they can conduct research to increase their ability to make informed, thoughtful decisions about how to care for their child and treat the condition.

Tip #1: Ask Questions

After giving a diagnosis, many practitioners suggest treatment options. Parents should listen carefully and then ask these questions if they haven’t already been answered:

•   What are the pros and cons of the treatment you are suggesting?

•   What can we expect as the treatment moves forward?

•   If this doesn’t work, what’s the next step?

Tip #2: Seek a Second Opinion

Depending on the treatment suggested and answers given in response to questions above, parents may want to seek a second opinion. These suggestions make it easier to locate a qualified expert who will give an accurate second opinion.

•   Ask the practitioner who made the first diagnosis for a referral.

•   Check with parents who have other children with the same condition, and ask them for a recommendation.

•   Seek a referral from national or state organizations specific to your child’s condition.

•   Check with your insurance company before making appointments.

•   Look beyond a practitioner’s technical competency. Look for someone who talks directly to your child and sees the child beyond the diagnosis and is a team player.

Tip #3: Use the Internet

Parents can also use Internet to research a child’s condition. But they should also use discernment. To better analyze information posted at different websites, put these dos and don’ts into practice.

•   Do use the Internet to find organizations that specialize in your child’s diagnosed condition.

•   Don’t use the Internet to diagnose a child’s condition.

•   Do seek reliable resources beyond the Internet to confirm or disprove what you read.

•   Don’t research on the Internet if a professional you respect advises against it. They may realize you’re too vulnerable to read what you find there.

Tip #4: Make a Decision

Finally, remember that at some point, the initial research has to end. Decisions about surgery, treatment, therapy, or educational placement must be made. When that time comes, parents should make the best decision they can based on their research and the advice of professionals, and move forward with confidence.

To read more about how to research a special needs diagnosis, check out these posts:

5 Tips for Attaining a Special Needs Diagnosis, Part 1: https://www.differentdream.com/2013/10/5-tips-for-attaining-a-special-needs-diagnosis-part-1/
5 Tips for Attaining a Special Needs Diagnosis, Part 2: https://www.differentdream.com/2013/10/5-tips-attaining-special-needs-diagnosis-part-2/

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Jolene is the author of the Different Dream Parenting series for parents of kids with special needs, and she speaks at conferences around the country. Her blog,www.DifferentDream.com, provides resources and encouragement for parents of kids with… Read More


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