Professionals Working in Partnership with Parents: What's Going Wrong?
Nov 14, 2016 — Hello again Supporters,
there has seemed to me, to be a theme of professionals wanting to exclude the parent from scenarios where a child is to be assessed, interviewed, or for mental health support at CAMHS. The voice of the child has become more and more important as it should, but professionals sometimes forget that no child is an island, they have parents and family who are part of their lives and vital within it. Parents also have parental authority - which is being increasingly disrespected. In seeking the child's voice, which the vast majority of parents are supporters and advocates of, are professionals trying to exclude parents?
One of the criticisms by professionals, is my presence in these settings, despite that both children have insisted to me very strongly that they want me there, professionals don't seem to take on board that:
1) that is a child's moral and perhaps even legal right;
2) as a minor, it is normal for a child to want support and advocacy from their parent;
3) as autism is a social communication disorder, it is even more vital that the parent supports their child (unless of course it is against their will) to ensure their wishes and needs are adequately expressed (some may become selectively mute, or give one word answers or misunderstand the question or concept being put to them);
4) as most autistic children suffer anxiety in such situations and may lack confidence, having their parent there is likely to make them more confident and less anxious and therefore more likely to engage with the process. After all, it's why there is 'different behaviour between school and home' - same reason, children are often inhibited in school and feel safe at home to let it all out with their parents.
When you consider how often professional reports contain multiple important errors, if your child's voice is being misrepresented at all, who is going to be believed - your child, or a professional? There is a good blog post here about errors in professional reports:
"When written reports about your special needs child are inaccurate"
On 'The Special Parents Handbook' Facebook page run by Yvonne Newbold, which has almost 8k members, Yvonne said about this issue on 12 July 2016, "...the frustrations that I know a lot of us have had to cope with over this one..."
Maybe many people don't contact the author of the report to request it is amended, but I am someone who does (but wishes I didn't have to). That doesn't make me a bad parent or parent or emotionally harmful to our children (who are none the wiser about it). It is done for the right reasons, to ensure their needs are understood and correctly supported. Professionals (including social workers) should understand that and welcome it.
All policies talk about how parents should be actively involved:
The SEN Code of Practice 2014
"It contains separate chapters on provision in the early years, primary and secondary phases and new chapters on:
● working in partnership with parents
● pupil participation"
"Young Minds Good Practice
PUTTING PARTICIPATION INTO PRACTICE
A guide for practitioners working in services to promote the mental health and well-being of children and young people"
"It is highlighted that it is important that children and young people have an advocate of their choice. This can include parents or other relatives (informal advocacy), friends or relatives of the same age (peer advocacy) as well as formal advocacy provided by specialist agencies."
"CYP IAPT Parent participation update - Parents Improving CAMHS
As part of YoungMinds’ work with the national Children and Young People's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) programme, we have received a very positive response to our request to parents to get involved with us and help us develop a new online toolkit for parent participation in CAMHS.
The toolkit will help CAMHS build the case for, and implement, effective parent and carer participation."
So why am I being criticised and targeted for doing what all the policies say is right?
Why are professionals unable to work well with parents? Why are they so arrogant in believing they know what children need more than parents who have known them all their life? Why don't professionals treat as gold dust, the information from parents that can help the child be correctly supported?
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