How to Advocate for Your Child in Medical Settings


Taking care of a child in medical settings such as an emergency room or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be overwhelming in itself much less with the added stress of keeping track of all the unfamiliar technical information you receive from professionals. But you can educate yourself and share your developmental concerns with health care providers to work collaboratively with professionals. Here are some simple and effective ways to advocate for your child.


  • Share information, such as your child’s medical history, including diagnoses and your concerns, observations, and priorities for your child.
  • Ask professionals for recommendations about reputable sources of information to learn more about your child’s specific medical needs.
  • Ask professionals questions to make sure you understand their diagnoses and the care and services they recommend your child receive.
  • Write down your questions before appointments with professionals to make sure your all your questions are answered.

Keep documentation

  • Take notes during medical-related visits and interactions to document your experiences and/or request written summaries and reports from professionals.
  • Keep an organized paper trail so you can use your notes and documents to support your advocacy efforts in medical settings.
  • Read materials from your insurance company to understand what is and isn’t covered by your insurance policy.

Bring and find support

  • Bring another family member or friend with you to medical settings if possible. Having the support of another person can help you process and recall medical information shared during visits or hospital stays.
  • Consider talking with other families who have children with delays or disabilities to learn about their experiences and get advice.

Ask for a second opinion

If you are uncomfortable with the medical care your child has received or feel you need more information about it, you can request a second medical opinion. It is ideal for you to feel confident and comfortable with the medical care your child receives.

Publication date: 2022