Help. I’m being held captive in a dusty house somewhere in the Southeast.
Mountains of a decade’s worth of official paperwork for my children surround me. Evil stacks of looming, dust-filled documents torture by tickling the nose. I’m taunted and goaded to turn over a new leaf from Proud Procrastinator to Peppy Secretary. They threaten to slit my fingers! If only I could beat them down to a woody pulp…but I’m just too darn tired.
Every doctor, therapist, case manager, and resource teacher per child hands me more paper with each visit. I receive updates in the mail. Sometimes these are duplicates, because I asked for copies I knew I had somewhere. Children come home with reports in their backpacks.
What’s worse, HHS, DOE, and related service agencies are going green and paperwork is emailed. Now I can get more overwhelmed in the comfort of my own home. I must make sure I print it out because I’m in constant fear of my children’s games crashing my computer. If the information is in a sealed, zip file, I scramble to find passwords hastily scratched on the backs of drafts. I must make sure I have enough printer paper. I must make sure I collate (sometimes my printer gets a little excited if it’s a big file and it starts shooting out sheets). Then, I add it to a landfill called our house.
Today, there’s an Annual IEP Review for one of my three children. Last night was devoted to a hacking-away party (I too have found Jimmy Hoffa) by collecting, sorting, hole-punching, reviewing draft goals sent via email, and writing concerns with a vision. Seriously, this meeting is important; it piggybacks a re-evaluation and sets the stage for a transition plan.
I really hope the IEP team doesn’t flinch when they read that the vision for my son is to someday require less paperwork. Is there a word for Paper Phobia?
I look through books and search the internet for shortcuts to getting organized. Of course there are none. However, my research shows there are several methods to keeping good records for your child. Some say to order it chronologically, but to include everything: medical reports and lab tests, evaluations, Social Security, Medicaid, school. Some insist on a 3-ring binder for the school stuff only, with index tabs separating areas by evaluations, IEPs, progress reports, report cards, and correspondence. Whew.
In our school district, we’re lucky to have a full-time Exceptional Children’s (that’s what we call Special Ed. in our state) Parent Liaison. She hosts IEP notebook workshops. We were told to bring a one-inch three-ring binder. My mounds of paperwork just laughed and told me to tell her I’ll bring a three-drawer steel cabinet and “she’d better like it”. One drawer for each child- just for the school records. I decide I need an administrative assistant. I need a wife. I need a life!
It occurred to me that only recently do I have the luxury of writing about these woes, instead of doing what I should be doing (filing). It took years for the boys to receive services in order to have all this paperwork. I don’t recall getting out of the house before 2006. If you had told me ten years ago I’d be taking time to complain on this blog, I would have laughed harder than my cruel world of pulp non-fiction.
But please, take pity. I reach out with my little calloused, bleeding hands: Free me. Tell me what works. How do you handle your kid’s paperwork?Gesundheit, momof3au Tags: Alison Davis, Autism Society of North Carolina, momof3au, special education advocacy