Organizing Your Child’s Paperwork - Part I of II

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Having a child with complex medical means having a lot of paperwork. In Della’s 11 years, I have collected thousands of pages of medical records, test results, doctor recommendations, school ARDS/IEPs, teacher correspondence, speech/ot/pt reports, insurance appeals, etc.

Why is it important to organize your child’s paperwork? Sharing relevant medical information with school personnel or having the necessary evidence to appeal a denial from insurance, will help to better serve your child. Seeing your child’s entire history can keep the big picture in mind. This process also gives you a better understanding of where your child could use more support, especially in an educational setting.

Organization does not come naturally to me and my first filing system was a box of papers that quickly grew into a mountain. I purchased the Wright’s Special Education Law book called From Emotions to Advocacy which dedicates a section to organizing paperwork.

My husband, Chad, happens to be a digital person. He scans everything and shreds hard copies which is why his desk is much less of a fire hazard than mine. For those of you who prefer digital files, you could easily use the organization method laid out in the Wright’s Law book.

The Wright’s Law organization method is very simple. Get a binder(s) and dividers with each divider representing one year in your child’s life. Add the documents in order by date with the oldest documents on the top and the most recent on the bottom. All types of documents (medical, school, insurance, etc.) are mixed in together and initially, I considered having separate sections. I ended up wasting a lot of time arguing with myself about what category papers should go in (letter from school requesting reimbursement from insurance: does that go under insurance or school?). Just trust the experts and do it by year.

Organizing Della’s paperwork was an empowering experience. I am my daughter’s greatest advocate and I have the binders to prove it.

This is only one way to organize medical records. If you have other tips and tricks, please share in the comment section below.

- by Caitlin Calder