And Why Families Should Never Buy Into the Wait-list Drama
I do not like wait-lists. While amongst my Director colleagues it is a sign of prosperity and growth, it really means that some child who needs services is not being seen. And that is a problem. The best myth about a wait-list, is that the provider is excellent. Have you ever seen a long line for a new restaurant? What drew you in is not the aroma…it was the visual of seeing all the people gather. You didn’t want to miss out. Let’s go further…once you get in, you may have discovered there was more excitement in drawing you in with a line…than the actual food itself. I have a rule…unless my favorite Chef (Alex Guarnachelli) is present…only then will I stand in the line.
I have many friends whose children, I absolutely love, require therapy services ranging from light speech therapy (a boost) or intensive treatment services (ABA and all other specialties). The conversation or text messages are the same…no open spots. This makes them filled with angst in not being able to provide their child something that they need. After all, parents are supposed to make sure that their children’s needs are always met. What this does is add a level of desperation for a spot and increases the parental guilt paradigm. For me, I maintain the wisdom of my godmother…there is always a way, you just have to ask the right questions. I started my private practice in 2002 being a problem solver to select families and school districts. Finding Right Fit Services, creating a learning profile and teaching teachers how to program and reach learners with Intensive Learning Needs. And moved to a larger more robust multi-specialty system..but I continuously grew unhappy in that being an administrator of paperwork and people wrangler (certainly not the vision) drew a larger distance between me and my clients. I could no longer continue in that fashion.
When my son was born, I was in high intensity mode. For those who know our story personally, our son’s birth was an absolute miracle. In fact, if you ever want to see a miracle…look at him. I was in a quiet anxiety filled frenzy to give him the best childcare in the form of a doula-nanny. I found one, Karen, and she was with him for one full year. She loved him and was excellent. She was the right fit-right match for us given where he was developmentally. He quickly grew to be a year old and he was turning out to be quite active…his needs changed. And we began to search again. We found, Nina, a grad student in psychology who was very very active in her lifestyle and could multi-task the movement of this toddler. I was initially discouraged in my search, that all the good spots or people were taken. Between nanny search agencies and reading books including Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer, I began to think how much more families of children with special needs are confounded and perplexed as they navigate the therapy process.
I thought where is this service for families of children with autism and other disabilities?
Parents are specialists in their career and with their children. Navigating therapy and its management is a full-time job requiring expert assistance. Parent’s need assistance in locating the right match for their child now and monitoring the fit for change. Assistance can come in the form of
•Finding the right therapist fit
• Monitoring Progress
• Giving Insight to your child’s team
• Someone who speaks the language of therapy to discuss “where we are”
• Coordinating all teams: private therapy, school therapy, and education curriculum
• Holding therapy accountable to support the vocational, college, and employment vision for the child being served
Honestly, I think therapist’s are happiest when there is a right fit (matching skill set with needs). All BCBAs are not meant to work with children in the third grade and create ABA programs to meet the third grade curriculum. Likewise, all speech pathologists are not “speech motor” people. In the medical field, I go to my cardiologist for heart matters and podiatrist for my feet. In the therapy, world the “We are Open For Services” does not give great detail about the specialty. The same goes for private and public school search for children with learning needs along with attending those meetings.
Parents need a partner. Children need a right fit from the therapist that reads journal articles and books and not the one who gets advice by writing on Facebook “How do I treat X”… in secret groups…sad but true.
This is the part that makes me happiest. Side by Side with a family, Locating, Guiding, Managing, And Monitoring treatment. It’s missing…and it’s time that the wait-list drama dissipate and we begin to ask better questions. After all, there is always a spot.
Here is to THRIVING!
Landria Seals Green, MA., CCC-SLP
For more information on the Parent Services, go to my website or email me at email@example.com