You read online or heard from your lawyer that you should write a “letter of intent” for your child with special needs. But you have no idea where to start. Your daily life is busy and sometimes chaotic, and sitting down to write a formal letter sounds overwhelming. Here is where you should start.
- 48 Hours of Your Child’s Life
First, think about what your child does in a 48-hour period. Imagine that you have to go on a business trip or visit a parent, leaving your child behind. Start writing down the instructions you would leave the relative or friend who cares for your child during those two days.
Come up with a broad list of topics including food, medical care, getting to and from school, appointments, and the like. Your list should include:
- Daily routine
- Medical information such as prescriptions and dosages, doctor contact information, health insurance policy information, and medical appointment needs
- Teacher and aide contact information; notes on catching the bus to school or getting to work
- How to communicate with your child and manage behavior
- Likes and dislikes
- Gather Information from Others
After you write down information that you know about your child, seek out information from others. Have a family discussion using the same framework described above: what someone would need to know if he or she was going to care for your child with special needs for 48 hours. Your other children and the child with special needs can give input on communication, needs, and wants. Your spouse, relatives, or other caregivers can provide details about education, family history, medical needs, and more.
- Write Down Your Letter of Intent, and Keep Adding to It
Now that you have some ideas of what information to include in the letter of intent, and you have gathered some of the information, write it down. Download a sample letter and fill in the blanks, or create your own. You should organize the letter in sections so that a caregiver could quickly flip to the information he or she needs.
Print out or copy the letter of intent and put it in a safe, but accessible place – maybe in your desk or in a file cabinet with other paperwork for your child. Make sure your family knows where to find the letter if they need it. Or send it as a PDF via email to your “future team” and have them save it in their archived emails.
Finally, keep making changes to the letter over time. You learn new things about your child with special needs all the time, so make sure the letter reflects them. Maybe set a reminder to update the letter every six months or every year. Remember, this letter could help your child in the future when he and his caregivers need it most.
Rubin Law is the only law firm in Illinois exclusively limited to providing compassionate special needs legal and future planning to guide our fellow Illinois families of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental illness down the road to peace of mind. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-TO-RUBIN.