‘I have not seen significant improvements in how we approach development and learning in an infant with a multifaceted condition’
Peter Limbrick writes: I hope you have seen in the first three parts of this 4-part essay that TAC is a very simple idea. It gives early childhood intervention (ECI) and early support managers, practitioners and parents in any country a straightforward choice as follows:
- Do you want to keep the group of people supporting a baby or young child with disabilities separate from each other?
- Or do you want them to join together to make a Team Around the Child (TAC) with a shared aim of fully supporting the whole child and family?
If you choose the second option, then all things become possible. If you choose the first option this could be because you still think:
“My job is to help the child’s posture and movement. The child’s communication needs are nothing to do with me.”
“I was trained to work with children. I was not trained to support their parents.”
“I work for the education department. I do not have to collaborate with those people in the health department. Why should I?”
“I do not respect parents in general. Most do not look after their disabled child properly anyway.”
“Therapists and teachers have different concerns and cannot integrate their approaches.”
“My job is hard enough already. I cannot be bothered with TAC meetings, joined-up working and shared planning (even if it could save me time in the end).”
In my experience, these were the attitudes of most ECI practitioners when the Beatles wrote ‘Love Me Do’ in 1962. What is it like in your country? Very many ECI services in my country are still based on the above beliefs.
One thing has changed: In my country there is more consideration now given to parents of babies and young children with disabilities. There was practically none up to the end of the 1990s and now there is some. Wonderful.
But I have not seen significant improvements in how we approach development and learning in infants with a multifaceted condition (i.e. with multiple diagnoses including some combination of physical, sensory, communication and intellectual disabilities). My experience dates back to when ‘Love Me Do’ was being written and my brother was being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Am I wrong in this? What significant developments have there been in your country towards a whole-child approach for these children? Australia has produced the Family Booklet I quoted in Part 3. This is a brilliant start, but we need to see to what extent their ECI managers and practitioners follow the guidelines. I hope they do.
Will you send me information to dispel my pessimism and lift my spirits?
But if you are itching to develop your ECI service towards a genuinely whole-child approach, please consider TAC. It is simple and can cost you nothing. ‘Love Me Do’ was a good song, but that was over half a century ago.
The subject also forms part of the discussions in the ECI without Tears Seminar Series: Seminar series (UK) - new work with infants with disabilities ‘ECI without Tears’ Bristol, Wakefield, Liverpool, Exeter, Sheffield & Manchester in 2018