Often organisations and professionals that work with your child with autism may pride themselves on the fact that they work collaboratively and holistically with the other service providers in your child’s team.
Though I must admit that this statement confuses me a little and I will tell you why…
I think that when most professionals say this they mean that they ‘discuss’ their therapy goals with the other professionals or therapists who are working with your child.
This might sound ideal but unless all the team members are actually implementing the treatment goals in the SAME way, the child’s program will not be consistent and can often be very confusing for the child.
What you need to keep consistent in your child’s program is the ‘therapy style’ or the way that you and your therapists interact with your child when you are working on these goals.
Generally, the ‘therapy style’ should not change, no matter what goal you are targeting (i.e. a behavioural versus a relationship building style). Otherwise, each of your child’s team members will have a different way of interpreting how the therapy goals should be implemented.
Lets say that the treatment goal is to increase the range of foods that your child enjoys eating. This goal is very general and can be approached in so many different ways.
If we are using more of a Behavioural treatment approach, then you might expect the child to try a little bit of a new food and then be rewarded by a treat, or a more motivating food item.
If we are using more of a ‘Relationship Building and Developmental approach then we understand that there might be some sensory issues and or social/emotional issues that are underpinning this challenge. Therefore we might first spend time treating the sensory processing issues as well as building up the positive memories associated with mealtimes to reduce some of the child’s anxiety.
So it’s absolutely crucial for everyone in the team to be aligned with not only the ‘goals’ but HOW the goals will be implemented, right down to the interactional style! Otherwise the team won’t be working collaboratively or holistically.
However this is not always possible, because all professionals have their own way of working and therefore may not always agree on the ‘best’ approach.
Therefore I’ve put together some important things that you should think about when working with your child’s team or when seeking the right professionals to help your child…
- It is important to surround yourself with a team of professionals that are closely aligned with their delivery of therapy and have a similar treatment approach. Often it is useful to find a team that regularly works together with clients.
- Parents and carers are always at the center of their child’s program. They are the only ones who have regular contact with every member of the team. Because of this you are in a unique position to act as the coordinator of your child’s program. So it is really important to know as much as you can about what is happening in their program so you can share the information around the team and ensure that each of the professionals is using a similar therapy style and striving for the same developmental goals. The benefits of being able to take on this role will be invaluable to your child’s progress.
- Not only is it important that the team of professionals are working together, but that any other significant people in your child’s life are also involved in the training (e.g. grandparents, aunties, uncles, siblings etc). For example, on Tuesday night one of my clients asked me to do a training session with the grandparents because they spend a lot of time with Christopher. The grandparents found this so useful that at the end of the evening they asked me when the next session would be! So don’t underestimate how much other people would like to get involved in your child’s program.
- Video cameras are a great way of trying to get consistency in your child’s program. Many of my clients videotape me during our sessions because at the end of the session I express my thoughts to the camera so that other family members and professionals can hear about what I am targeting in therapy, and more importantly HOW I am doing it. This can be a great way to help everyone work more collaboratively.
So the question I’d put to you is…
Is your team really working collaboratively??
I’d love to hear your answers. Please leave your comments below.