The intuitive wisdom that parents are essential partners in their child’s growth and development has not always found a place in medical model therapeutic approaches. But in research circles today, when scientists talk about “critical ingredients” or crucial aspects of a treatment that make a difference toward a cure, the parent-child relationship is getting unprecedented recognition. Connie Kasari, Ph.D., a leading autism researcher at UCLA, has found that supporting the engagement, or joint attention between child and parent, is a critical ingredient in promising programs for infants and toddlers with significant developmental delays. Parents, then, are included as agents of change for their children. Twenty years ago, the idea of parents helping carry out therapy for their children was unheard of in many disciplines. Today, many treatments include parents as pivotal partners in the therapy, and evidence (studies) are coming online to support their effectiveness.
If you are weighing treatment options for your child diagnosed with developmental delays, here are some questions you can ask of your providers:
- Am I included in my child’s treatment sessions?
- Do you consider my child’s emotions and relationships when deciding on treatment goals?
- Do you view behaviors at face value or do you seek to understand the meaning behind behaviors, including sensory, motor, or emotional reasons?