When you are deciding on how to approach early, or continuing, intervention strategies to help your child with special educational needs, it maybe overwhelming.
Here are some thoughts that might help parents views the situation in a systematic and manageable way. I am writing this not only from the perspective of a psychologist who leads a team of intervention focused practitioners, but also as the parent of a child with autism. Even as a psychologist I found navigating this territory difficult, understanding who really could help and was intentioned appropriately.
Intervention provides might include speech language therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioural skill therapy.
Finding a good partner to help you with intervention practices.
The right kind of partner. It is important to work with key providers who really HELP.
They should have a (H) helpful and holistic perspective of your child. Being the parent of a child who required special educational adjustments is worrying. Your provider can help you see the strengths is your child as well as their challenges. They need to look at the activities needed today and in the future.
They should have a clear (E) evaluation roadmap for your child. They should able to tell you what key skills need to be developed, and why, show you a roadmap and help update you where your child is in their development. Your intervention provider should contribute to, even lead the IEP (Individual Education Plan) or IDP (Individual Development Plan). That whole plan should be updated 3-4 times a year, if your chid is under 8. For children 9-12 year old, the plans should be updated 2-3 times a year. From the age of 12, their plans need to be completely reworked in line with the second wave of development. See this article for more information https://reddoor.hk/2020/01/08/activating-the-second-wave-intervention-for-teens-with-sen/)
Listening (L) and cooperating with you is really important. You are the current expert on your child and your team should feel like real team members with a shared goal. It’s important that your fears, your worries, aspirations are heard.
Planning (P) is also important. Any intervention strategy should be clear to you and you should be able to turn up, or down, the volume as needed. You should be able to place scenario within an overall agenda.
Respectful. You may have heard that there is a lot of negative feedback from neurodiverse adults who were subjected to ABA therapy. Their main complaint is that the actions that they use to regulate their emotions, often seen as “stimming”, has been treated in a negative way. Our knowledge of “how to best help” kids who have delays expand with information every year. We now understand that making kids “look normal” shouldn’t take precedence over their need to feel reassured and safe. Ask your provider how they approach and treat “stimming” behaviours such as hand flapping, jumping, hair twisting. It is important that you are truly comfortable with their approach and that their approach is respectful to the needs of your child.
Goal-oriented. The purpose of an overall plan, and each element and activity within the plan should be completely clear to you. When kids are under the age of ten, our intervention efforts are often focused in a more concentrated manner towards helping the child start to achieve age expected behavioural, academic or communicative goals. This model is often referred to as a deficit model. I prefer to think of it of these behaviours as creating equalizing opportunities for these children. As your child becomes older, you will want the focus to alter – so that expansion of their key skills becomes a greater focus. This strengths focus helps prepare your child for potential vocation opportunities.
Fair -It is important that you believe that intervention therapies are fairly priced. It takes a lot of energy and education to provide appropriate intervention strategies and activities. As a provider I can tell you that it isn’t cheap to provide these services well. However, as a parent I have seen many programmes that are ‘eye=-wateringly” expensive. I encourage you to select a partner where you feel that you are getting a fair service for a fair price.
Lastly, please watch if your caregivers and intervention providers really care about the kids that they are helping. Warm relationships work wonders. Be sure that your child is being stretched by a person who really cares about them, and is interested in their development.
These are both my personal and professional opinions. When you start this journey, it is hard to know those who really care from those who are trying to just go through the motions, or overcharge and under deliver. Life is hard enough. Use the above guidelines and I hope you, and your child, can get the support you definitely deserve.
If you would like to know more about the UPSTART set of interventions provided by RED DOOR in Hong Kong please send a message, telling me about your child, to firstname.lastname@example.org