Organizing my child’s school, medical and extracurricular records was a challenge. I had a habit of putting one IEP in one place, the next IEP in another, etc. I had a visual memory of where everything was but when I was in a rush, and needed something right away, my visual memory often failed me. As for his medical and therapy records, everything was stacked in the same box but had no real rhyme or reason to the stacking. And extracurricular info/applications/receipts – please! – those were lost in the random shuffle on my desk or some corner of the house.
When my son’s first big triennial IEP rolled around, I learned my lesson the hard way. Searching around for this IEP and that evaluation and the latest letter from this or that doctor, ended up taking an hour or two, rather than the minutes it should have. If only had I only been more organized.
Realizing my ‘filing’ system was sad, to say the least, I began to heed the advice of other parents, which simply was – ‘get some binders!’ I had told myself I’d do just that when I got more time, but waiting had only made my stacks bigger and more unorganized.
Some parents I’ve spoken to keep their child’s IEPs in one designated binder, their medical information and treatment records in another binder, their therapy evaluations in another binder and so on. Some even make binders with all of their child’s precautions, specific daily care needs, behaviors and how to handle them, etc. As one mom who keeps binders for her son told me, if anything ever happened to her, no one would have a doubt about how to help her child – because everything pertaining to his care/needs was organized or documented in binders.
I know it may sound like a lot of work. Believe me, that’s how I talked myself out of it for so long. But you will probably be glad you did it in the long run. And you don’t have to do it overnight. You can do it piece by piece, maybe working on one binder a month, for example.
Many parent support organizations even offer file planners to parents to help them get their child’s records organized. Suggestions in these planners may give easy organizational guidelines you may have never thought of. I know that was the case for me. Ask your local parent support organization if they offer anything like this or for simple suggestions that may help you.
Hopefully I’m preaching to the choir, and most parents are already pretty organized. But for anyone like myself who needs a little push, try the binders or file folders. Believe me, when an important situation arises , and you just have to put your hands on that OT assessment from 2008, you’ll be glad it is right at your fingertips.
I still look for more advice on how to improve my organizational skills. Clever, time saving ideas are always welcome.