When it comes to working relationships I have sat on both sides of the fence. I have been the teacher visiting the homes of families, the person sat deciding whether a provision was appropriate for a child – but I have also sat as a Mum, desperate for help for not just one but both of my children at various points during our journey.
Help that has not only been hard won, but that at times has also been desperately hard to ask for and to accept.
So having sat on both sides of the fence, what advice do I have to give:
- Be persistent. When I started this journey as a parent I assumed that those who needed help got it, that waiting lists were reasonable and that the criteria for who got support was fair. Eleven years in, I realise things are much less clear cut. In order to access support within the system, you are likely need to push, chase and push again. Don’t take no for an answer, persistence really is the key.
- Once you get an appointment with a professional be as open and as honest as you possibly can. As a professional it’s hard to give accurate advice and support if you don’t have the full picture. I know it can be hard to admit that things aren’t going perfectly, but sometimes doing so is the only way that you and your child can access the help you need.
- Don’t be afraid to ask politely about the experience and qualifications of the person sat in front of you. It’s totally ok to need reassurance, especially if you have been let down by the system before. If you stepped into your work role and a potential client asked the same of you, you would understand their reasoning. It is reasonable to ask, especially if that person will be working directly with your child.
- Make sure you both leave the meeting having agreed on a set of actions you would like to come out of the meeting, and ensure you have both written those down. A great way to do this is to tap them into a laptop, iPad, or smart phone during the meeting itself, and email the list over to the other person in real time. Both parents and professionals are busy people with multiple priorities, a written record serves as a useful prompt for both parties and ensures there are no misunderstandings about the expectations on either side.
- Proceed cautiously if you decide to go down the route of private support. Make sure that the support you are accessing is going to give you what you are looking for. If you go down the route of a private diagnosis in particular, it is worth checking whether your authority will accept it as evidence for further support. If you decide to opt for private consultations in any field, it’s worth asking prior to committing whether the report will contain advice and strategies which will help you move forward.
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If you are looking for strategies you can implement now, why not check out Victoria’s new book ‘Talking Autism: Parenting Your Unique Child.’