If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes many villages to provide quality services to children with special needs. Each village is made up of professionals with specific knowledge. They speak different languages and have different rules, but children receive the best services when everyone works together. Providers also benefit, gaining skills and building relationships with each other. This collaboration is so important it has a name - coordination of care.
What does coordination of care look like?
There’s not just one way to coordinate care. Like all effective treatment, it is specific to the needs of the child. Even within the same family, care coordination can look different across time and between children. Care coordination can range from informal to very structured. For some children, care is coordinated by sharing assessment results and progress updates. Other children require input from all areas of the child’s life to develop a successful treatment plan and make changes based on objective data.
When educational and therapeutic services share goals, providers can incorporate activities during sessions across disciplines, giving the child more opportunities to practice and generalize skills. Here are some examples of skills that can be worked on across environments:
- Proper grasp for holding writing and eating utensils
- Using people’s names when trying to get their attention
- Alternating feet when going up and down stairs
Another type of care coordination involves consultation and referral. When a child's needs are outside of a provider’s expertise, they seek consultation or provide a referral to appropriate services. The following situations are times when consultation and referral could occur:
- A child needs more intensive or less restrictive services
- Talking with the child’s doctor to rule out possible medical causes before treating challenging behavior
- Making a referral for an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) evaluation for a child that is not talking
Treatment of severe or dangerous behavior requires contribution from the entire team to develop and carry out intervention. Training that consists of modeling, practice, and feedback may need to happen to make sure everyone is responding the same way.
How do I promote child and family centered services for my child?
To make organizing communication between everyone that works with your child easier, ask to sign a release of information. This allows providers to share relevant information directly. You are the expert on your child. Your participation and communication maximize outcomes and increase happiness for your child and the entire family.