How can I build a relationship between my child’s therapist and my child’s school?
This is a great goal! There are a few things you can do as a parent to open the doors of communication. The psychologists, speech therapists and any other type of specialist your child works with want her progress to be supported in a variety of settings. Sharing information with your child’s school can help them do this. Here’s how you can start the conversation and keep it going.
Fill out a form allowing the release of your child’s information.
This is a good first step. You can fill it out either at school or at your child’s clinic. On the form, you can specify who can talk to whom about what. For example, if you want information to be shared between the speech therapist your child sees at school and the one she sees at the clinic, you need to specify that both professionals have your permission to share records and information related to, say, your child’s treatment plan. This form has to be renewed regularly, usually every year.
Share your concerns.
You want outside professionals to communicate with your child’s team at school. But be sure you are sharing any specific questions or concerns that you want them to discuss. For example, if you’re hoping they can work together to support your child’s conversation skills, be sure to make that expectation clear to both parties.
Create a group email.
Technology can help you keep everyone in the loop. Once you have filled out the release of information form, create a group email including all the key professionals. Introduce them to each other. Share your goals, concerns and questions.
Request that they include you as a recipient in future correspondence with one another. Use email to follow up on therapy or classroom progress. This can also be a good way to update them on any breakthroughs or setbacks you see at home and to request advice as needed.
Use a therapy notebook.
If you’re not comfortable with a group email, a therapy notebook might be a better solution for you. Simply request that teachers and service providers write in it to update one another on your child’s performance in the classroom or in therapy that day. Ask them to include any successful strategies or ongoing concerns.
You’ll have to make sure the notebook gets shuttled between the clinic and school. But once it becomes a habit, it won’t seem like such a nuisance. Keep in mind that the notebook is for you, too. Keep up with the comments, and add your own observations and recommendations. Remember that you are the most important member of your child’s team!
Try to be patient.
Patience is often particularly important if your child doesn’t qualify for services at school but is being seen in a clinical or medical setting. You may need to do a little more explaining so that your school is aware your child does have needs and may need more individualized attention to succeed at school.
You may find it most effective to contact the teacher and school social worker first. Give them a copy of your child’s evaluation and treatment plan. Then request a meeting with both of them to talk about your child’s needs and what kinds of accommodations can help her during the school day. The tips listed above can help you keep the conversation going!
About the author
About the author
Kelli Johnson, MA is an educational speech-language pathologist, working with students from early childhood through 12th grade.