7 Steps for a Productive First Meeting With Your Child’s Specialist

Many types of specialists work with kids who have learning and thinking differences. Your child may work with more than one specialist to build up the skills needed to succeed. These professionals might include speech-language therapists, reading specialists, occupational therapists, child psychologists or neuropsychologists, and organizational coaches.

It’s important to set up a good relationship with anyone who’ll be working closely with your child. And that relationship starts at your very first meeting. Here are some key steps to take when you first meet with a specialist.

1. Do your homework.

Go online and research both the specialist and the type of work the specialist does. Look at educational background, training, and certification. You can also reach out to other parents who’ve worked with this specialist.

2. Gather your materials.

The specialist will need as much information as possible about your child. This includes evaluation results and a copy of the (if your child has one). You might also provide standardized test scores and samples of schoolwork.

3. Come prepared with questions.

Write down a list of questions before your meeting. The specialist may answer some of them during your conversation. But it’s important to leave with all the information you need—even if you have to ask more than once.

4. Be prepared to answer questions.

There will be questions for you, too. The specialist might ask about family history, your child’s health history, what you’ve observed, and what the teacher has seen. Be as specific as possible in your answers.

5. Discuss the specialist’s approach.

Not all specialists in a given field approach their work the same way. Ask how the specialist typically works on the types of challenges your child has. What are the strategies? How is progress measured?

6. Ask what your child can expect.

It’s vital that your child have a good relationship with the specialist, starting on day one. Find out exactly what they’ll be doing in the first session. And ask for suggestions on how to explain it to your child.

7. Discuss next steps.

At the end of your meeting, you’ll have a lot to think about and process. But before you leave, remember to ask what happens next, and what, if anything, you’ll need to do. You’ll want to be prepared, just like you were for this initial meeting.

For more ideas, read advice from experts on working with doctors and specialists.


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