Communicating Your Child's Strengths & Challenges
Parents know their child better than anyone else. When your child has a disability it is important to be able to share what you know about your child with the professionals who will be working with your child. While there are many ways to communicate your child's strengths and challenges, we offer the following ideas to help you communicate more effectively.
Methods to summarize your childs development include:
- Preparing a narrative summary of your child's development and sharing copies of this summary at meetings.
- Creating a personalized developmental checklist that documents your child's progress.
- Videotaping your child's activities to provide therapists and professionals a glimpse of your child in his/her natural environment.
- Creating a picture scrapbook of your child's developmental milestones.
As you create these summaries it might be helpful to think about organizing your thoughts by developmental area. This will help you to make sure to encompass all aspects of your child's development. Developmental areas to think about include:
- Gross Motor Skills - focus on large muscle movements like holding up head, rolling over, sitting up, walking, throwing a ball, etc.
- Fine Motor Skills - focus on small muscle movements like grasping a Cheerio, feeding oneself, buttoning clothes, drawing, using scissors, etc.
- Speech & Language Skills - focus on both expressive (speaking) and receptive (understanding) language
- Social/Emotional Skills - focus on the child's interaction with others and with the environment
- Cognitive Skills - focus on a child's thinking/problem solving skills and school readiness skills
- Daily Living Skills - focus on the child's ability to care for oneself
Using a developmental checklist as a tool will also help you to measure and track all aspects of your child's development. Comprehensive developmental checklists provide an easy way to understand the sequence of development as well. Use the checklist as a way to determine what activities your child has mastered, what activities your child is beginning to attempt and what activities your child has not yet tried.
Remember that children develop at different rates even between developmental areas, so explore developmental milestones before and after your child's actual age. If your child is significantly delayed, it may be easy to become frustrated by the lack of development skills described on the checklist. One way to combat this is to view the checklist as a continuum of development. Rather than focusing on the specific age levels associated with a task, focus on the current task your child is working on, celebrate when the task is mastered, and help your child prepare for the next sequential task.