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Tips and resources

As a legal professional, specialising in education law, I understand the challenges that parents and caregivers of special needs children face in the UK. It can be overwhelming to navigate the education, healthcare and legal systems to ensure that your child receives the support they need and are entitled to. However, with the right resources and knowledge, you can become the strongest advocate for your child and help them thrive in all areas of their life.

Here are some tips and resources, that I regularly recommend to parents, on how to support and advocate for your special needs child in the UK:

Understand your child’s needs: The first step to advocating for your child is to understand their needs. No one knows your child better than you do. However, with different diagnoses and medical terminology, it can be difficult to have a full grasp and understanding of your child’s needs. Working with their healthcare providers and educators to gain a better understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and specific needs will be the most beneficial way for you to gain a full picture of how best to support your child. This way, you will be able to make informed decisions about the services and accommodations your child requires. Keep note of any questions and queries you may have and ensure you address these with the appropriate professional. Also keep note of what they say to you, there can be a lot of information given to you at one time when you have a special needs child and you can’t always remember everything. Keeping notes will ensure you can go back and reflect on what they have said to you afterwards.

Know your legal rights: As a parent or caregiver of a special needs child, you have legal rights under the Equality Act 2010 and the Children and Families Act 2014. These laws ensure that your child has access to appropriate education, healthcare, therapies, and social services. Familiarising yourself with these laws and using them appropriately to advocate for your child’s rights will ensure that you are heard. 

Get support: It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this journey. Even with family and friends around you, they may not have a complete understanding of your child’s needs. There are many support groups and organizations in the UK that can provide valuable resources and advice. The National Autistic Society, Scope, and Contact are just a few examples of organizations that offer support to parents of special needs children.

Build relationships with professionals: Your child’s healthcare providers and educators can be valuable allies in advocating for their needs. Build positive relationships with these professionals and communicate openly with them about your child’s needs and progress. This will help create a way of moving forward in supporting your child across all aspects of their life.

Keep records: Keep a record of all meetings, phone calls, and emails related to your child’s care and education. This will help you stay organized and provide evidence if you need to make a complaint or appeal a decision. This includes making notes from conversations with professionals, a diary of your child’s absence from school and having things saved in folders for ease.

Be persistent: Advocating for a special needs child can be a long and challenging process. It’s important to stay persistent and keep pushing for the services and accommodations that your child needs to succeed. As difficult as it may be, it’ll be worth it for your child in the long run.

As challenging as supporting and advocating for a special needs child can be, with the right knowledge, resources, and support, you can make a significant difference in your child’s life. If you

feel you need my expert help, please do contact me or one of my team for an informal chat to see how we can assist you to achieve a future in which your child will thrive and reach their full educational potential.