It is wrong to assume parents have to be exhausted and stressed
Early Childhood Intervention without Tears: Improved support for infants with disabilities and their families
By Peter Limbrick. 2017
In this book, Peter Limbrick suggests a significant reconfiguration or reframing of early childhood intervention (ECI) services to counter two long-held assumptions: that disabled infants can be treated very differently from typically developing infants; that families must accept exhaustion and stress, often to the point of family breakdown. The major elements in this reconfiguration are as follows:
Full consideration is given to parent-infant attachment. This can be impeded by difficulties in feeding, changing, playing, etc that arise from the infant’s disabilities. It can also be impeded by a pattern of interventions that keeps the parents and the infant busy, tired and stressed.
Finding a workable balance between the pattern of necessary interventions for the infant and the quality of life of the infant and family. The aim is for quality time for parents to support the infant’s development and learning and quality time for parents and infant ‘just to be’ with each other, learn about each other and enjoy each other’s company.
New mothers and fathers are helped to become competent and confident in the first baby care tasks by building on what they already know. These first baby care tasks gradually become the natural activities of living and learning into which on-going teaching and therapy programmes can be integrated. These are enjoyable times for parents and infant and help the gradual process of bonding.
The suggested reframing begins with new aims and ambitions for early child and family support that promote the wellbeing and resilience of the family alongside optimal opportunities for the infant’s development and learning at home, in the community and in nursery or first school.
Dr Tim Moore of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia comments about Peter Limbrick’s publication:
“His reframing seeks to balance the focus on the needs of the child by taking more account of the needs of the family and the overall quality of family life. This is a valuable shift that should ensure that the TAC (Team Around the Child) approach can be applied safely in different settings and countries and continue to be a valuable resource for early childhood intervention practitioners and services.”