Keeping Track of All the Paperwork

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Bob grimaced as his granddaughter, Tami's, teacher of students with visual impairments handed him three sheets of paper at the end of their meeting. One was ideas for the family to try this week with Tami; one was a handout on talking to your baby, and one had phone numbers of other families whose children have albinism. Paper, paper, and more paper!

Like Bob, you may be amazed and sometimes overwhelmed at how much paper you get—forms you've been asked to sign so the teacher can get the doctor's records and the doctor's office can get the teacher's records and so on. Do you really need to keep copies? Why do you have to bother?

It's Worth the Bother

  • There'll be times when you want to check back on information you've received. Keeping it organized in one place will save you a lot of time and anxiety.
  • The medical and educational professionals in your baby's life are going to come and go. Over the years, you'll have many teachers, therapists, and doctors working with your child. You and your family are the team that stays in place. Having the detailed information that accumulates over time all in one place, will make your life easier when a new administrator or specialist joins your team. It can also help you and others look at your child's progress.
  • The reality is, paper sometimes gets lost. You may have given permission for a teacher to get copies of a doctor's report, but the report might not get to the teacher. If you have the report on file, you can give a copy of it to the teacher yourself, saving days or weeks. And your child may get something she needs more quickly.
  • Bringing your documentation to meetings is helpful for you and your child. If a question comes up, you have the paperwork right there. Remember, not all the professionals you're dealing with are going to know as much as you do about the medical procedures and educational services your child has received. Also, if you need to make your case that your child needs certain services, having copies of assessments and reports will be effective, if not invaluable.
  • From time to time you might want to look back to see where you and your baby have been and how far she's come. In a way, all that paper is your baby's story, which grows as she grows.

Organizing the Documentation

Here are some ideas that can help you keep track of your child's records and other paperwork.

Divide a three-ring binder into sections, such as:

  1. Eye specialists
  2. Other medical information
  3. Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
  4. Assessment reports
  5. Home visit notes
  6. Resources
  7. Miscellaneous

You might find compiling this information more appealing if you make it a visual history as well, adding pictures of your child and other important people.

An alternative to a notebook is file folders used for different subjects or kinds of information. You may not have time to file things as you receive them, but try to separate and file them as regularly as you can so you're not later overwhelmed by them as they pile up.

If you're comfortable using a computer and scanner, you can save time and space by storing all those papers on your hard drive. But be sure to back them up periodically so you'll always have a copy.

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