Content Provided by: Helen Rader and Jenifer Simpson
Keep a notebook. You must write down facts and keep a paper trail. Print out our Contact Sheet to help you organize the information that you learn on each call. The contact sheet provides an easy-to-use template for effective note taking.
There are two different kinds of information that you want to record, factual information and subjective impressions. Factual information includes the name, telephone number and title or position of the person you talk to. Don’t be afraid to ask people to slow down. Say “Just a minute, please, I need your name and title. I’m writing this down.”
Listi the questions you ask and write down the given answers. Put quotes around answers. Ask the person to repeat themselves or say “I heard you say that you do not think Jesse can be in your day care center because he has a wheelchair. Is that what you said?” Write it down. It is okay to say that you are writing the response into a notebook.
If you get an answer you don’t agree with, don’t understand or you know is wrong, say so. Always ask for the statement to be sent to you in writing. Say, “Please send me a copy of that in writing.” You can make this request when you are talking with educators, insurance companies, Medicaid, a community agency, hospitals, landlords, restaurant owners and others.
Keep a file folder or box or drawer for the written replies and paperwork you will receive. If you have time, organize it either chronologically or by subject.
Subjective impressions are your thoughts about either a person or an event that occurred. Did the person act friendly? Ignorant? Were they willing to talk with you? Were they evasive? Just jot down a couple of words or sentences to remind you what kind of conversation you had. This will help you be better prepared the next time you need to deal with the person
Remember. Keep your notes on facts and opinions in one place, either on a computer or in an organized notebook. This is a quick and easy way to make sure that your notes are not here and there, but easy to find. Over the years, you’ll see why having your notes together is a time-saver. Date your notes and thoughts.
Have questions about advocacy and how to get started?
Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to fellow parents and caregivers about their experiences.
Use these resources to learn more about advocacy in your area.