When you have kids with special needs, you have paperwork. Period. Whether their needs are medical only, or educational as well, you have paperwork from the doctors, the insurance, the school, the IEPs, and more.
You also probably have enough "Parental Rights" notices to wallpaper your living room.
Keeping that paperwork organized is important! Nurses get doctors' orders wrong. Doctors need to be reminded what they said. You need the stuff available to do your own research. Administrators and facilitators misplace things. When something goes wrong, you can prove what's supposed to happen, because you have the paperwork - and you can put your hands on it.
Let me tell you what I have done, and then I'll present a couple of options for you. We have two sons. One son has strictly medical needs. We have lots of test results, referrals, and copay notices. My other son has both medical and educational needs, so his records include IEPs, meeting notices, signature pages, and testing. I finally decided on a binder system. For each child, I have two large binders. One is for school involved stuff (including report cards, etc,) and one is medical. I use binder dividers, per year. 2010 is at the front, 2009 is next etc. I don't organize inside of that. All the paperwork goes in the proper year, with most recent on top. This keeps all the paperwork out of the rest of the household files, in one place, and at my fingertips when an administrator inevitably misplaces something. My method works for my family. You'll only use it if it works.
I did a search on your behalf to find out if others have different methods of handling the paperwork. Some various tips I found:
- Regardless of method, keep it consistent. No method will work without consistency.
- Regardless of method, give it a home. It stays there unless you're taking the records with you to an appointment.
- You might consider a permanent portion, and a mobile portion. IE: Keeping insurance EOB's and bills already paid in a stationary file, and prescriptions, current IEP, current referrals in a binder to take with you.
- There are others who disagree with me on this, but as a mom, I suggest NOT getting rid of the records after a certain amount of time. Perhaps for financial things, yes (ask your accountant and tax advisor,) but with my kids, I find having a really long over time picture of what's going on that's documented helpful with both diagnosis and prognosis.
- Find the time to do it. When you pay your bills, or when you do the rest of your filing... Just do it. Weekly, if you're really heavy on appointments and therapies at the moment.
- Have a logbook or notepad, and note dates, times, and names of phone conversations. You may never need it - on the other hand, you really might.
Another method I ran into. Digital! I'm honestly considering this option. In this case, the only hardcopies you would keep would be "originals." Original prescriptions (as the pharmacy needs the original,) and anything that is an original, not copied, signature for example. The rest you would scan, organize on your computer, and then place on a CD or flash drive. This way, you save on space, and if you organize the titles of the documents with proper descriptions and dates, you can put your hands on the file again if needed. Using the flash drive or CD will back up the data should your hard drive crash.
This does not need to be complicated, or expensive. Pick a method, stick with it, and adjust it to suit your family and your personal organizational objectives. You can do it.