Julie McIsaac
September 7, 2022

Back to School, Back to Paperwork.

A time-consuming aspect of back to school for children with disabilities is paperwork. Here's one parent’s thoughts on those endless forms.

(Prefer to listen? Check out Episode 25 of our Podcast– Just Needs: a podcast about parenting children with disabilities)

The kids have transitioned back to school and now it’s our turn.  The IEP annual meetings are being scheduled, assessments are being requested, observations are happening and systems are being set up at home and at school. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good system, and I LOVE a good collaboration among team members. I don’t even really mind the paperwork. I know some of it takes researching to understand the systems. I’m capable. 

But this time of year it all just feels like one. more. thing.  So I wrote about it….

I can handle the paperwork. I manage a lot, I can certainly manage forms.

I can handle the paperwork. I’m a smart person. I can figure this out. Don’t assume because I’m a parent I’m not also a professional, or a student, or a specialist in my field.

I can handle the paperwork.

 But the kids need to eat. Which means I need to get groceries. So I need to find time to get to the store. I can’t do the paperwork now.

 Dinner is made, kitchen is cleared, food is prepped for tomorrow’s lunches, it’s bedtime for the kids.  Just like the previous 387 bedtimes, bedtime takes longer that I expected (why this is a surprise to me, I’m not sure) and I have less energy left than I thought I would (again). I can’t do the paperwork right now.

 Tomorrow is a new day! 

A fresh start and new energy. Coffee is poured and my list is made. I’m off.  Check, Check, Check.  Feeling good…. wait, why is the school calling.  Reshuffle my day.  My kid needs me.  I can’t do the paperwork right now.

 It’s the weekend! So much time, right?  Meh, sort of.  Emotionally, my kids take up most of my energy. As they should. Physically, I’m needed, by the kids, by the house, by whatever else comes up in life.  And I need to replenish my own energy before going into a new week. I cannot let my well dry up. I can’t do the paperwork right now.

 And so it goes again as we enter another week and I see the pile of paperwork and list of places to research sitting on the corner of my counter awaiting my attention.  Ok, right after I get the laundry washed…

 I can handle the paperwork, I just really need someone to do the laundry.  

Whether you’re looking at pile of paperwork or a note on your to-do list to research where to start, we know you are capable. We know you can do it, but we also know that you’re doing a lot. And when we are stressed, it is harder to make sense of new information. We also know that these processes are not easy to understand (even for the “experts”). 

We are here to help.

  • Julie McKinney, MS

    Director of Product Content and Health Literacy Specialist

    Julie McKinney is a health literacy expert with extensive experience writing and revising health information for audiences with lower literacy skills. She has a BS from Brown University and an MS from Northeastern. As a parent of a child with a disability, Julie also has a personal understanding of the barriers that complex health information presents, and a heartfelt appreciation for information that is easy to understand and use.

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