Parenting plans are child centered so that they respond to the best interests of the child. In neurotypical families the plans often include where the child will reside, which parent will have primary parenting responsibilities, how the child will be financially supported, how the child will be transferred from one parent to the other, vacation and special family events, health and education issues.
In families with children who are neurodiverse, there may be extra factors to include in the plan when determining which parent is best suited to take on the responsibilities and tasks that are part of providing for the child’s unique and special needs.
Here are some things to consider:
· Which parent will sign consents for assessment procedures? One parent or both? For example, the child may need assessments or tests or supports for: behavioral support, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy.
· Which parent will attend school meetings for the purpose of developing the Individual Education Plan? One or both? And, who has the authority to sign it?
· Which parent consents to, and signs for, the child’s placement in a special classes, programs, or schools? One or both?
· Is there a strategy in place to be used if the parents disagree about the assessments and/or interventions and/or service providers or specialists?
· Which parent pays for the fees and extra transportation costs of the special programs or interventions or supports?
· Which parent decides if the child requires extra services such as tutoring, and which parent takes the child to the services and pays for them?
· If the child has problems with transitions, how has the transfer from one parent to the other been organized to ease the transfer for the child?
· If the child has in-home supports such as a behavioral interventionist, will the service provider agree to work in both homes? Will this service provider be paid extra and by which parent, for the extra travel?
· Are both homes set up in ways that accommodate the child’s environmental needs? If not, can the home be altered?
· Does one parent understand less, or have fewer specific parenting skills, regarding the child’s special needs than the other? If so, is there a plan for the less skilled parent to become more educated on this?
· Is it specified in the parenting plan that it is short or long term and does it allow for changes in the child’s needs over time?
Parenting plans can help both the parents and the child to adjust to the new circumstances and move on with their new lives.
For more information contact Brenda McCreight