4 Key Strategies for Communicating Your Child's Needs to Schools

Indiana Lee
5 mins
Indiana Lee

Advocating for your child’s needs should be your top priority as a parent or caregiver. Without adequate advocacy, you may find that your kid is overlooked and is not given the support and attention that they need.

This is particularly important today as the CDC states that 17% of children have a developmental disability, but that many do not have access to adequate care and are often misunderstood.

Communicating your child’s needs to the school can help you learn about the services available to them and help them get the services they need. By making first contact, you can get to know key stakeholders in your child’s education and steer your kid’s learning in more productive directions.

Crafting Persuasive Messages

Reaching out to your school’s administrators and teachers can be intimidating. However, there’s no reason why advocating for your child should lead to arguments or conflict. Instead, take a rational, respectful approach when crafting persuasive messages.

  • You can start advocating for your kid's needs at school by taking some responsibility as a parent. Reach out to their teachers and ask what you can do to improve behaviour and enhance learning at home. Just be aware that many teachers are responsible for hundreds of children and may take a few days to respond to email queries and voicemails.
  • You can also touch base with administrators and the local school district. This will keep you abreast of changes to the curriculum and will ensure that you know what services are available to your child. Getting in touch with your district is particularly important if you believe that your child would benefit from being at a school that has increased access to supportive services.


Every child deserves to learn in a safe, supportive environment. However, many children with disabilities may be inadvertently exposed to harm in the form of bullying and inadequate support. As a parent or caregiver, it’s your job to follow up on any potential safety hazards that you notice.

Before the semester starts, get in touch with administrators to learn how decision-makers handle the top safety concerns in schools today. These include:

  • Emergency Response: Your kid’s school must have an emergency plan in place to respond to fires, lockdowns, and floods. As an advocate for your kid, you can ask about the procedures that are in place to ensure children with disabilities are also kept safe from harm.
  • Transport: Getting to and from school requires a secure, reliable communication system. Inquire about steps that have been taken to further protect and support kids with a disability while they are on school buses and make sure drivers are aware of your child’s needs.
  • Training: How are educators and administrators trained to handle a safety breach? If they do receive regular training, does it cover the exact needs of your child too?


Educators should be familiar with the needs of every student. This is crucial as children with disabilities may require a different approach to learning than the rest of the classroom. Teachers who are familiar with differences like neurodiversity can help children fit in with their peers and receive proper care.

When communicating with educators, check that they understand neurodiversity and how it may impact your child. At a minimum, teachers should be familiar with common types of neurodiversity like ADHD, autism, and dyslexia. Ideally, teachers will understand the challenges that your neurodiverse child may face and should be equipped to step in and protect them against bullying or provide appropriate learning materials.

When speaking with teachers and administrators, push back against the idea that disability or neurodiversity is innately “bad”. Instead, consider advocating for a strength-based approach to neurodiversity when communicating with educational stakeholders. This approach preserves your child’s dignity and helps them receive the care that they deserve. This is crucial, as teachers who understand your child’s specific strengths and challenges will be able to suggest the best path forward for your kid. In general, this means teachers will pursue either an Individualized Educational Plan or a 504 plan. This involves:

  • IEP: A bespoke plan tailored to the specific needs of your child. The accommodations your child receives are determined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and will require serious engagement from everyone involved with your child’s education.

  • 504 Plan: 504 plans are perfect for children who have a disability that is recognized legally. It ensures your child receives the accommodations they deserve and is put in a position to succeed. 504 plans are usually used when a child does not require specialized instruction, but would still benefit from effective accommodations.

These plans are designed to empower children, parents, and teachers alike. They give you a path forward and can help you navigate conditions like ADHD or autism. IEP and 504 plans help your child receive established, effective accommodations that make their life at school that much more accessible.


Modern schools should be equipped with software that improves accessibility. Accessible tools improve communication and enhance focus in education. Some tools do this by streamlining the note-taking process, while others offer a customizable web experience to reduce visual stress and help with conditions like dyslexia.

If your school does not offer accessible tools, it's worth asking why. This doesn’t need to be confrontational, but you should receive a clear answer as to why your school has not invested in accessibility. If you are unsatisfied with the response, it may be worth raising the concern with the district to highlight the issue and its impact on your child.

When working with a school that has fallen behind on accessibility, consider bringing forward your own research and insights. This can be particularly helpful if administrators are overwhelmed with their workload and have little time to discover accessible tools. Taking the initiative is never a bad thing, and it helps you effectively communicate your child’s needs to key stakeholders at your child’s school.


As a parent, you have every right to advocate for your child and their specific needs. Rather than approaching the conversation abrasively, take a persuasive approach to build rapport and learn more about the services on offer. This will strengthen your connection with the school and help you build a reciprocal relationship with teachers. If you do find that your child’s needs are not being met, consider raising the issue with the district to receive a quick response from the school.

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