When it comes to parenting kids with disabilities you are often connected to a support worker who connects you to services in your area. Navigating the system can be overwhelming. It encompasses everything from health to education to community services, and there are many categories under those umbrellas. You should try and have the best relationship possible with the person who can connect you to those services. Here are a few tips for creating a strong relationship with your autism support worker.
Even when it’s hard, try to be open with them
It can be really difficult to open up when you’re first introduced to the person handling your contracts. A stranger walks into your home and you’re expected to show them your greatest struggles. It’s very likely that you are going to need their help with things you may not even talk about with your closest friends or family. Do your best to be vulnerable and tell them what you really need help with. They can’t help you if they don’t know what your issues are.
Know what your priorities are
Firms like these always have policies and processes in place that they need to follow. The people working on your case are human, and they want to help you. However, there is only so much funding to go around, and sometimes resources are limited. What another family receives may not be the right fit for yours. Know what is most important to you before you meet with them, and be willing to let go of things that may not have a huge impact on your child’s development right now.
More doesn’t always equal better
Sometimes when services are offered to us, we want them all! But more is not always better. Consider that your autism support worker sees many cases and likely has a lot of experience. If they’re telling you to forego one service in favour of another, maybe they have seen similar cases to yours and see it in a way you don’t. There are times when small steps in the right direction are more appropriate for everyone. You need a strong foundation to build on, and that often takes time. This is really where knowing your priorities is important. Remember that if something isn’t working out, you can always revisit and revise your services.
You’re an important part of the team
Eventually you’re going to get supports and you’ll be working with a team of professionals. Usually there are behavioural therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and the list can go on. Let go of the idea that they know best! This should be a collaborative process, and your questions should be welcomed. No one knows your child better than you. There won’t be anyone on the team that can provide the insights you can. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask them. Everyone will benefit from having open and honest conversations, and your child will be in a better position if everyone is on the same page.
Try not to let others interfere
It’s only natural for us to compare our lives to others. There are times when we chat with other families and compare services. Or times, when someone from our team tells us about services other families they work with, are getting. If you’ve got a good relationship with your autism support worker, try not to allow these other people to interfere. There are so many moving parts behind the scenes that we don’t see. They aren’t playing favorites when they assign services, they are truly trying to meet each family’s needs. If something comes up that you really can’t get off your mind, just kindly ask them. Again, they genuinely want to help you and see you succeed! When they are good at their jobs, they will do everything in their power to help families reach their goals.
Relationships with autism support workers are symbiotic. If they ask you to do something, try to provide it for them. Be responsive when they reach out, and don’t try to cover up your struggles. They can do more to help you when you also help them. The relationship can be an incredible pillar of support in your life over many years. Don’t take these people for granted! Try to treat them with as much respect and care as you would a supportive friend or family member, and I promise they will show up for you.
If you live in Alberta like I do, this is an excellent resource if you’re looking for disability supports.
Do you have a good relationship with your autism support worker? If you had a bad experience, were you able to ask the agency to assign a new person to your case? I would love to hear your stories and tips in the comments below.