Monthly Archives: November 2013

The problem with early intervention…

Due to the numerous unknowns that await a child with special needs, the criteria for some (certainly not all) early intervention services are more lenient than those for older children.  This is (I assume) primarily because it is impossible to tell how these children will develop in the following years.  Some will “catch up” to their same-age peer group, while others will fall further behind.

header_eiAn example of this, is the Early Childhood Development Programme (ECDP) run in Queensland, Australia, for children with special needs.  The ECDP is attached to a special school, and provides playgroup, kindergarten, and prep services for children with special needs.  The ECDP is a free service, and is offered for children with any special needs – from things such as developmental delays, physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, to profound impairments.

Whilst this is a brilliant service, and I can’t speak highly enough of the ECDP my son attends, there does seem to be one problem – which has recently been brought to light… The playgroup is fantastic for the children, and often having children with a range of disabilities is a good thing – there is no comparison of abilities, and the other parents can relate to you, as they usually have a “general” understanding of some of what you have been through.

Recently a problem arose due to the fact that there is a range of abilities and special needs in the class, ranging from some that appear reasonably mild to some that are more obvious and a little more difficult to control.  A fellow mum, and someone I consider a good friend, began to feel that because of the behaviours displayed by her son (who has autism), that he was “worse” than others in the group.  This has been very upsetting for her, as she always found it a very welcome environment in the past.  These feelings then grew to worry and stress that when her son was older he would be too much for the school staff to handle, and that he would be the worst in the school, etc.

Now, the reason that the ECDP, and other early intervention groups with loose entry criteria contributes to this problem is that when the children move up into the school, they are re-assessed, and must meet a very strict criteria – in actual fact, the majority of the children in the ECDP playgroup won’t be classed as having seveintervre enough disabilities to attend the special school. So the playgroup is not in any way a representative sample of the school environment.  Many of the children in the playgroup will receive so much benefit from the ECDP that they will be able to attend mainstream school.  The children who attend the special school will generally be, for lack of a better word, “worse”, than the majority of the children in the playgroup.

In special needs circles, use of the words “better” and “worse” are not well received, and is highly offensive to tell someone “it’s okay, the kids at the school are much worse than this, your son won’t be as bad as the worst we have”.

Everyone wants to do what is best for their child, regardless of whether or not they have extra needs.  More early intervention services are needed, but maybe one of the biggest ones that has been overlooked is the need for parent (counselling) services.  Parents can do much more for their children if they are looked after too…


Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Breaking up…

I have come to realise that simply liking a therapist is not a good enough reason for my son to continue his therapy with them.  Seems obvious, right…?  Maybe it is, however choosing a therapist is very difficult.  After researching therapists who live somewhere in the vicinity, and whom also specialise in the skills your child requires (which is a task in itself), your child may not respond well to certain personalities, and if they don’t like the therapist, not matter how “good” they are, therapy is not going to progress well. 

Recently I decided to reassess all of Harry’s therapies and therapists in light of the fact that he will be starting kindergarten next year (and the fact that we currently spend in excess of $600 a fortnight on therapies).  Currently, Harry attends physio, occupational therapy, swimming, horse-riding, and speech therapy (some of which are attended multiple times in a week).  Kindergarten will mean fewer days are available for therapy, and hopefully some components of therapy will be provided throughout the day whilst at kindergarten (he will be attending a mix of normal and special kindergarten).  

Unfortunately, terminating a child-therapist relationship, feels like a breakup.  I feel like I am dumping them…  Maybe I feel bad because in the back of my mind I feel that we have not seen strong results and good progress, and we are not merely “taking a break” as I have implied to them, but maybe I am in actual fact firing (dumping) them due to incompetence…?? 

It is difficult to be patient with therapists – you visit them so regularly and watch them “play” with your child, and then charge an exorbitant fee.  Progress is very slow with a special needs child, and often you feel like you are getting nowhere.  Is it better to seek out a new therapist and “change things up” or are we just a few more “therapist-child play dates” away from the next big breakthrough…? 

Unfortunately I am not an overly patient person.  I think it is time to shake things up with some new therapies, out with the old, in with the new!  Harry starts hydrotherapy next week… wish us luck!

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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