Friday, January 20, 2012

Parents as Advocates

It's January, which means it is Social Media Advocacy Month in the music therapy cyber world.  Last year I wrote about advocating in our everyday lives. As I thought about what advocacy aspect to address this year, I found myself focusing on a question I often receive: How do I get music therapy services for my child with special needs?  

When you think about it, the answer lies in advocacy.

Here are ways in which parents advocating services for their child can also advocate for the field of music therapy.

Request an Assessment
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes music therapy as a related service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  However, there are still many educators and administrators who are unaware of this specification.  By requesting an assessment - the first step to receiving music therapy services - parents bring awareness to the field, create opportunities to educate the educators, and just may elicit overall program changes.  I received my first school-wide contract in part because one parent requested music therapy services for her child.

Invite Music Therapists to Speak
Most music therapists jump at the opportunity to speak about our field.  Parent support or advocacy groups are a great place to share information and gather additional advocates.  I am a firm believer in the policy of strength in numbers!

Contact Your Legislators
Currently, there are a number of states working for legislature establishing a state music therapy license.  This not only ensures clients are receiving the highest level of care from properly trained professionals, but it also strengthens the case for healthcare coverage of music therapy services.  Parent testimonials supporting the role of music therapy provides legislators with a tangible, human reason to join our advocacy efforts.

What other ideas do you have?  Are you a parent of a child with special needs; how have you been successful in advocating for services? Let us know, leave a comment below!

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