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Organizing information on your child with special needs - Part 2 of 2

Whichever filing system you choose, start and maintain an index or master list of your documents.  An index helps you find documents faster and  keep track of what documents you have.
Whichever filing system you choose, start and maintain an index or master list of your documents. An index helps you find documents faster and keep track of what documents you have.
Mary M Conneely (author's own work)

In the first part of this series, we learned about the types of records and information parents should gather on their children with special needs. Once you have gathered these documents together, it is time to organize them.

Don't let important papers get lost in the pile, organize them!
Photo by Eli Kaplan/Getty Images

There are several different ways to organize the records, so it is important that you think about the filing system that will work for you. In this article, I will describe three common systems. When choosing the system you will use, keep these points in mind :

  • You need easy access to this file.
  • The file must be portable so you can take it to medical appointments and school meetings
  • You must be able to find documents in the file easily.

In addition to choosing the type of filing system, you must decide on the type of physical file you will use to keep your documents in. Some choices are:

  • 3 ring binders
  • manila (or other color) folders
  • expanding wallets
  • expanding file pockets
  • folders with fasteners

Chronological Filing System
Some people prefer to file all the documents relating to their children in chronological order. The documents are filed by their dates with the oldest documents on the bottom and newer documents on top.

The idea behind this system is that it allows you to see the full picture. Reading the file is like reading a story of your child’s life. The US website Wrights law recommends this chronological system stating,”When you read the information chronologically, you will see the big picture.”

Subject Filing System
In this filing system, your child’s documents are filed together, but divided by subject. Within each subject section, the documents are filed chronologically with the newest document on top. You use the same type of physical files as the chronological system, but also need tabs or subject dividers. Here are some of the subjects you can include:

  • pediatric records
  • medications
  • your notes from meetings, to do lists, etc.
  • correspondence between you and your child's school
  • correspondence between you and your child's medical providers
  • Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or other educational accommodations
  • diagnosis information & research
  • report cards or other progress reports
  • medical reports, assessments or evaluations
  • legal information
  • insurance information and claims
  • expenses not covered by insurance
  • occupational therapy records
  • physical therapy records
  • speech & language therapy records
  • psychological records
  • psychiatric records
  • dietitian/nutritionist records
  • alternative medicine providers
  • day care/babysitter/creche
  • preschool records
  • kindergarten records
  • primary school
  • middle school
  • high school/secondary school
  • standardized testing information and reports
  • medical aids
  • assistive technology

Provider filing system

In this system, your child's records are filed according to provider. So, if you received a letter from X primary school, you would file the letter under the provider X primary school. Within each provider section, file the documents chronologically with the newest document on top. As with the subject filing system, you need tabs or subject dividers for this system. Here are some of the providers you can include:

  • doctors or medical practice offices
  • therapists
  • schools
  • insurance company
  • pharmacy
  • child care providers/babysitters/creche

For more organizational tips, watch the short slideshow by clicking on the photo above.

If you want additional information about organizing your child's records, check out the websites below.

American Academy of Pediatrics

The Center for Children with Special Needs

Organizing Your Child's Special Education File: Do It Right! (Wrights Law)

Parenting Special Needs

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