With our special needs kiddos you have undoubtably accumulated a ton of paperwork! (Frankly, it’s my guess that my family alone has killed off a few million trees to document the range of diagnosis that they have)
I had to learn early on to be very proactive about organizing and figuring out a system that was going to work for me. (And that’s the key here…..find the system that is going to work for you!) Everyone works differently. When you do your research, find one that is simple enough for you to keep up with because trying to do a cram session can be detrimental to your family and your self. (I know of what I speak people…it can get scary when you are up to your ankles in paperwork for not just one kiddo but two….It was a dark day here at Team L; thankfully we all survived and I vowed to a) never speak of that day again and b) keep up with the influx of paper quarterly)
A few essential things to incorporate into your system are a separate envelope for your medical receipts, a folder/binder for your most current evals / test results and a thumb/flash drive.
First: the envelope for your receipts. This is so that at the end of the year you can gather them and submit them with your tax return and or if you have a MSA (medical savings account) you can attach them to your submission. You do not want to have to go through binder or files to dig these receipts out one by one. You will give up quickly and lose the opportunity to get reimbursed.
Second: a folder or binder for your current evals / test results. You can divide it up into two folders: one for evals the other for test results. The reason for this is because you do not want to be hauling around the entire binder system that documents your child. You only need the current data to engage the school / nurse / doctor / therapist, blah blah blah. You will pull your back out hauling the entire case load around. Once your year is up or a new eval has come in, immediately switch it out. Make sure you note that everyone who is supposed to get a copy has. This is your job, not the evaluators. Never assume. Always, take it upon yourself to supply the eval to all people who are concerned and who need it to keep working with your child. This includes his/her pediatrician, OT, Speech & Language, Chiropractic, Holistic, school therapist, school district, everyone!!
Third: a thumb drive (flash drive). This is a little time consuming, so I suggest taking this in steps. You are going to want to scan each document, starting from the paperwork that was generated from your kiddos birth all the way through their last check up or eval. I suggest once a month you pick an afternoon and work for a set amount of time….say 2 hours. Scan for about an hour and a half and then use the remainder of time to “organize the scans into folders by child’s initials and the year” this is important to do especially if you have more than one child. Don’t forget to include a copy of their birth certificate and a copy of your insurance card and your drivers license. Why should you do all of this? Because, G-d forbid there is a disaster, natural or otherwise, you are going to want a back up of all of your papers. It can be almost impossible to try and recreate a special needs kids portfolio. You forget doctors names, numbers have changed, blah blah blah. Those rash of tornadoes blowing through the midwest this year should give you a better understanding of this. Those people lost everything in their homes, including any and all paperwork.
You should be updating your flash drive every 3 months. You can even make two flash drives, one that you keep with you and one that you give to someone else like a grandparent or place in a safety deposit box. That way if there is a fire, tornado, robbery, or whatever, someone else will have the information that you have painstakingly collected and organized.
I have found a few resources to help get you started with this project. They are listed below. Of course you should do your own research to find out what method, will best suit you and your needs. Just pick something that can be easily maintained, by anyone and don’t forget to update quarterly.
Resources & Links
**Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the above sites or organizations. I do not receive any compensation or other perk from the sites listed above. I will add to these resources as I find them. If you know of a good one, email me.