When your child has an additional need you often come into contact with a range of professionals. While these professionals can offer support, many parents experience difficult encounters. It is important to ensure that you and your partner support each other during these meetings. Working together can keep your stress levels down, but all too often a difficult meeting can just lead to arguments and put pressure on you as a couple.
Attending meetings about your child together is often ideal, although sometimes difficult to achieve. If you can go together, taking time to work out a joint approach to a meeting can really help.
Parent Arabella advises
“As soon as possible try to get your partner to attend meetings about your child’s condition and behavior so that they are informed first hand like you. You then can avoid appearing to moan because they interact in a way that your child doesn’t respond well to”.
You may wish to consider asking a professional if it is possible to be seen at home. By having professionals see children in their home environment rather than in an office they are more likely to gain a better picture of your child and how you are as a couple.
Before attending any appointments sit down together and discuss:
- What you hope the outcome will be
- What information you want to present at the appointment
- Any questions that you would like addressed
Write these down to remind you during the consultation.
If one of you can’t attend an appointment and the professional is unable to see you at a mutually convenient time, ask if you can record what is said by using a Dictaphone. This can take the strain off the parent who is attending the consultation as they will not have to retell everything to their partner. It can also help your partner to feel included and to keep them fully informed.
You may also ask if your partner could have the professional’s contact details. This would allow them the opportunity to have their questions answered following the consultation and to develop a relationship with the professional.
Spending some time considering appointments as a couple before they occur can leave you feeling more empowered. Being clear about what you hope to achieve from the appointments can help to ensure that they are meeting your needs. Celebrate your success; tell your partner when you feel that they supported you well or put across a key point effectively. Remember that you are the expert on your child and that the professionals should be partners in the processes that you are working through.
This is an extract from Special Needs Child: Maintaining Your Relationship by Antonia Chitty and Victoria Dawson, White Ladder Press £12.99. The book is available online and in your local bookstore. Quote ISBN 978-190541056-9 to order.