Advocating for Your Child

 

Finding a Health Professional

It can often be an overwhelming experience finding a health professional, whether your team consists of one or five health professionals. It is important to feel welcomed and find someone that will align with your family’s values and priorities.

An effective team involves developing trust and requires skills including communication and collaboration. When finding a health professional, it is helpful and encouraged to ask questions prior to starting out, to ensure you are finding someone who will meet your needs and be a good fit for your ‘dream team’.

You may find some of the following questions useful:

  • Will I be involved in the sessions?

 

  • How do you communicate and collaborate with my child’s team (health professionals and education team)?

 

  • How do you provide feedback?

 

  • What ways can you support us as a family?

 

  • What therapy approaches do you use?

 

  • How do you support generalisation of skills?

 

  • What does a typical session look like?

 

  • How do you ensure a consistent and efficient service delivery?

It important to provide feedback if you find something is or isn’t working for your family. Let them know what has worked for your family in the past and what hasn’t.

 

Providing feedback allows health professionals to change their approach, ensuring your family is feeling supported and receiving a service that will be effective for your child.​

 

Requesting a Team Meeting

What is a team meeting?

 

A child’s team is everyone involved in supporting your child.  By bringing a child’s team together for scheduled meetings, it ensures that all team members continue to work in collaboration with one another.  Ideally, team participants at a meeting would include you and everyone who works with your child, e.g:

 

  • Occupational Therapist;

  • Speech Therapist;

  • Psychologist;

  • Teachers;

  • School Support Staff/Aides (Often they are neglected in these meetings but they are SO important!);

  • Paediatrician (...if you have an amazing paed. who will come); and

  • Anyone else who works with your child.

 

 

Why are team meetings so important?

 

Communication, collaboration, and developing relationships between the team of people working with your child can be really beneficial. It can give you the opportunity to: 

 

  • Provide information and feedback regarding your child to everyone at the same time rather than having to retell the same things at each individual session;

  • Get up-to-date information and feedback from different therapists so everyone knows what everyone else is doing so therapies can complement each other;

  • Share strategies that work (or don’t work!);

  • Set common goals; and

  • Ensure that there is a consistent approach across all environments.

 

 

Why haven’t I been offered a team meeting in the past?

 

Unfortunately, team meetings don’t occur as often as they should as teachers and therapists become busy, they may be concerned about privacy issues, they aren’t sure exactly who is on the team, and it can be time consuming to organise.

 

 

Who should organise a team meeting?

 

It is ideal if parents can organise team meetings as they know exactly who is on the team and they are usually the best ones to advocate for their child. You can always ask someone else to chair the meeting if you are not comfortable doing that, and you can always ask someone else to take notes during the meeting as well.

 

One of the benefits of our Covid lockdowns, is that everyone is now much more comfortable and familiar with using Zoom, or other online meeting platforms, so a meeting doesn’t need to involve travel time anymore.

 

 

How can I accommodate everyone’s schedules and find a meeting time that works?

 

There are many websites and Apps that can help everyone to find a common meeting time. One of them is ‘Need to Meet’ at https://www.needtomeet.com/how-it-works . You can put in suggested meeting times, tick people on your contact list to send the invitation to and, once you have the responses, it’s then easy to send out the meeting confirmation time.  Another good site is https://doodle.com , but it is a subscription service with a free trial...you just need to remember to unsubscribe!  There may be others you may have heard of, or could Google if you wanted to!

 

 

I would like to arrange a team meeting.  Where do I start?

 

  1. Make a list of everyone that you would like to be involved in the team meeting and make sure they are in your list of contacts on your phone or computer;

  2. Send them a message or email to let them know about the upcoming meeting e.g.

 

Dear [your teacher/therapist],

 

I would love for everyone that is working with [your child] to have a meeting together online so that we can share information, feedback, goals and strategies for this year. I will be sending out a [Need to Meet or other App] invitation with possible times to meet.

 

Could you please complete this and send it back, and I will contact you to confirm a time for the meeting and send you a Zoom link. 

 

Thank you so much, and I look forward to seeing you soon,

[your name]

 

  1. Use the meeting App to find a common meeting time;

  2. Organise a Zoom meeting at that time, and send the time and the Zoom link to everyone on the team. Also ask them if there is anything in particular that they would like to talk about in the meeting.

  3. Put together an agenda so that you cover the things you want to address. This may look like:

    1. A brief parent introduction and outline about how things are going for your child, and sharing any relevant new information;

    2. A brief introduction from everyone; who they are, what they do, what they are currently working on, and what they love most about your child;

    3. Questions that they may have for you (or for each other), and any shared concerns;

    4. Brainstorming strategies and specific language that can be used to address those concerns so that everyone can have a consistent approach.

  4. Organise for someone to take notes (if you are not happy to do it yourself)

  5. Have the meeting, and forward the notes to everyone on the team.

 

What is the suggested frequency of team meetings?

 

We recommend that team meetings are held at least twice a year.

 

It is always important to remember that parents are the most important people in a child’s life, and no one knows them better or cares more about them that you do! You are by far their best advocate. So, if you think that a team meeting will be beneficial for your child, please go ahead and organise it.  Your Spark OT looks forward to meeting the team!