4 Tips to Successfully Build Your Child’s Special Needs Team

Written for Chicago Parent- April 2015

Multi-disciplinary team collaboration is key

Kids with special needs need to be surrounded by a team — parents, therapists, teachers and caregivers – that collaborates and works together seamlessly to help master skills.

Four experts – Occupational Therapist Michaja Prendergast Johnson, Speech-Language Pathologist Abby Foltz Hottle, Clinical Psychologist Jeannie Gutierrez and Developmental Therapist Lorell Marin – provided tips at this year’s Neighborhood Parents Network Developmental Differences Resource Fair to help parents maximize the effectiveness of their child’s team.

  1. Be the ringleader. Parents are the glue that sticks everyone together. Send an email to the entire team or ask one member to initiate contact.
  2. Understand and expect that some professionals may charge for additional time.
  3. Gather all communication in one place, in a notebook or Google doc. Make sure all your questions get answered. Record additional recommendations, such as for toys or play groups.
  4. Ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed or are having trouble understanding the discussion. Request additional support, such as IEP meeting attendance. It’s helpful to have someone to debrief with afterwards.

Working as a team not only helps with your child’s overall progress; but also ensures each individual session is more productive.

Therapeutic professionals are passionate about what they do. If you ask, they are often willing to help.