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Special Education Director's Blog

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Knowledge Is Power

I recently had to opportunity to spend nearly a week in the hospital with a family member. It didn’t take me more than a day to figure out that, though I have an advanced degree, I am a “fish out of water” in the medical environment! The vocabulary, the acronyms, and even the procedures had the potential to make me feel inferior and at the will of the medical professionals around me. 
 
However, I began to notice that these amazing professionals, from maintenance workers to physicians, had a culture of practices that helped the patient and family feel empowered in their care. The behaviors were so consistent that it had to be a standard protocol in the training of all staff. 
 
So what is this magic behavior that kept me from sinking into victim status? Information! At every turn, no matter what was happening, the staff explained what they were doing, going to do, and what to expect in the future. When the techs took vitals, they told us the numbers and what they meant. When nurses administered medication, they named the medication and explained its purpose. When tests were ordered, it was explained why they were important and what to expect. 
 
You get the idea . . . patients and their families were treated as important members of the medical process. These professionals recognized that in order to be an active participant and decision maker, a person must have sufficient knowledge to make decisions. 
 
For me, this experience emphasized the importance of all ARD committee members, including parents and students, having the information critical to decision making in the ARD process. This practice empowers all members of the ARD committee and builds trust in relationships.
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