Parent-Professional Collaboration: It’s More than a Meeting
Receiving a diagnosis or verification of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is hard enough for a family. When you add in trying to formulate the best team possible for your child ’s education and treatment, that news may become downright over whelming. For the professional , working with a family to establish educational goals for a new student with autism may present complex discussions and questions as well. The challenges to both parties may threaten full collaboration and not serve the child most efectively.
A successful parent-professional collaboration is influenced by a variety of factors. This article provides a first-hand account of a successful partnership from the perspectives of a parent and professional, as well as some helpful tips for making your efforts at collaboration more successful.
A parent’s perspective: Georgann Albin
The article in the local paper about autism seemed a bit too familiar to me. As I continued to read further, I realized that they were describing my son Aaron, and his behavior and characteristics. It was July, and little did I know that this article would lead us to an autism verification and diagnosis by September.
The first, and one of the most important, of many desperate phone calls I would make was to Laura Maddox with the Nebraska Autism Spectrum Disorder Networks, a project of the Nebraska Department of Education. I already had done extensive research on the Internet, and within just a couple of days, I had learned a lot about ASD and had even printed some pictures to help Aaron communicate. Laura talked to me for quite a while, calmed me down and explained some basics.
A professional’s perspective: Laura Maddox
When I answered my phone that July afternoon, I didn’t know who would be on the other end, nor did I know it would be such a memorable call. There was a mother of a young child who recently had read an article in the paper that listed the “red flags” of ASD. I could hear the concern in her voice; her son—3 years old—had limited communication and did not play with other children or with his toys appropriately. He had so many characteristics of autism, she said.
As I spoke to her, I tried to give her enough information to help her make positive, informed decisions and to find out more about her son and whether he had autism. I explained the difference between an educational verification and a medical diagnosis, something that I have found to be quite confusing for parents, related service providers and even educators. In Nebraska, these are distinctive and mutually exclusive processes, unlike in many other states. I also gave her contact information for the local parent support group and names of other professionals who would help guide her through the process of verification and developing an appropriate educational program if her son was verified with ASD.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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