Peeling the Onion
Working with a child who may be exhibiting delays is like working with an onion. The child is the inner core of the onion and surrounding the core are many different layers that are also part of that same onion.
Understanding this concept and being respectful that we have signed on to work with the entirety of that child and the layers or the support systems of that child is important to recognize. Many times the easiest part of our jobs is working with the actual child.
The challenge can be reaching the many other layers: the parents, the grandparents, the nanny, the day care providers, and even the pediatrician. Making sure that we work on a team where we can address any questions, concerns, and doubts keeps solidarity of the plan for the child moving forward.
I cannot even count how many times I have heard a parent mention how they were on board with the services but the stumbling block was "the grandparent", who believes in keeping the child happy at all times and "doesn't help." I have also heard of the daycare provider who won't allow for the therapist to see them in their everyday setting because they think the child is "just fine" or "it would be a disruption to the other children."
I believe being proactive and meeting with the supports of the child is an important aspect to building a unified team. Many times extended family members and providers don't quite understand what we do and why. If we can share our interest to support the child in their everyday routines with the many different providers supporting that child then we might actually be assessing the whole child and therefore creating a change in every aspect of that child's life.
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I can remember meeting with the grandparents and great grandparents of a little boy that I was starting to see. The mother told me of her struggle to get her mother and he grandparents on board to practice certain strategies throughout his day. I decided to meet with the whole family.
During that meeting I answered all of the questions they had for me and they shared their disbelief in his need for services. Long story short, we came to a mutual understanding of ideas that seemed easy to incorporate in their daily routines with their live in grandson. When I went back to visit a few weeks later the grandparents expressed what a difference they saw if their grandson and how the progress cultivated a new sense of openness. The grandparents learned that they too were part of the team to help
In teaching their grandchild, I presented myself as a consultant to the family. I did not want them to view me as the expert who knows better, but rather as the provider who unified the team and allowed the family in its entirety to realize the power they held in helping their grandson.
And this little guy's onion became stronger and larger as a result of taking the time to get everyone on board.