by Vidya Guhan
As parents, we are responsible for getting program done with our child. But we certainly don’t have to do it all ourselves. We should think of ourselves as the managers or supervisors of our child’s program. To be successful, especially in the long term, it is helpful to get a team of people you can train to do program for your child.
The best people for your team are not the trained professionals, but family, friends, kids, and teens who have a positive relationship and interaction with your child and will follow your instructions. You want folks who do not have preconceived notions about what your child can or cannot do, and people who see your child as a child, first and foremost, not as a label or diagnosis. You want people who are energetic and have good intensity themselves. For these reasons, tweens and young teens tend to be wonderful program implementers. So delegate where you can. You will have more time to manage non-program activities, and your child will benefit from interacting with multiple people.
Here are some suggestions for finding help (volunteers or paid):
1. Consider asking family, siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the area. If they are not in the area, talk to them about helping to make therapeutic videos, audio recordings, flashcards etc. for your child. Most children will enjoy seeing favorite relatives on TV or hearing their voices on tapes, and this would free up your time considerably and keep your program going smoothly from week to week.
2. Consider asking family friends, neighbors, church friends, homeschool friends, and their children. Many of us hesitate to ask, but our family and friends care about us and often want to help but don’t know how. By asking for specific things, we bring them into our lives instead of shutting them out. Older children may be looking for babysitting positions as well.
3. Check out your local craigslist listings for childcare www.craigslist.org, or post an ad yourself. Craigslist is a great resource in some cities to connect with people in your community.
4. Post a childcare ad at a local community college or university. College students are a good resource, as they almost always are looking for part time work. Students in education, nursing, or therapy majors may be looking for specific experience that you can provide as well.
5. Check out online childcare listings at www.sittercity.com or www.care.com and others. These sites have a monthly subscription fee, but they tend to yield a lot of potential candidates very quickly. With a subscription you can see full profiles of potential child care providers, and most of them would have had background checks by the agency.
6. If there are aides or paraprofessionals at your child’s school who work well with your child, consider approaching them to work with your child privately as well.
7. Reach out to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and find local chapters and troops. Approach them and see if they would like to volunteer to work with your child.
8. Check out “Big Brothers/ Big Sisters” or other national organizations like that who provide mentors for kids at risk or special needs kids. Look for a local chapter. These tend to be free services.
There are plenty of people out there who will cross paths with you and your child. Keep an open mind and be receptive to help from others, but be selective. You do not want to hire anyone who does not “feel” right to you or is negative in any way. Stay away from naysayers.
Once you have help, train them to do program the right way. Show them the program videos. Demonstrate the activities yourself. Check in many times in the early stages to make sure they are doing it right. Send videos to your coach and have them double check that the helper is doing a good job with the program activities. Give them a schedule/checklists to work from and to communicate with you. This is a good way to hold them accountable for their share of program. Ensure that they do not make changes to program activities without your agreement. Most of all, make sure they are on the same page as you with regards to expectations for your child.
Talk to your coach or evaluator for specific suggestions for your child. Summer is the perfect time to find help with all the kids out of school and looking for part time jobs. So, get started – and get help!