Contributed by Metta Preschool Occupational Therapists, Ms Juntado Amelia Tungcol and Ms Belga Heidi Vasquez
Caregivers are facing more challenges in caring for their children with special needs in areas of academic work, socialization, and integration into society. Many find it difficult to teach their child about concepts and how to apply it academically, making friends, engaging in communication and interaction, and to perform usual daily activities similar to their peers in an outdoor environment. Occupational therapists and paramedical staff can contribute to the child’s quality of life by providing additional education and training to the caregivers.
We share some strategies by our therapists in training caregivers with a child with special needs:
- Education: The therapist acknowledges the caregiver’s role in the improvement and the child’s quality of life. Among the treatment plan is education for caregivers about therapy goals, strategies and training.
- Flexibility: The therapist appreciates the caregiver’s responsibilities and demands of their role. They adjust the training methods in consideration of the caregiver’s demands and expect repetition and changes in information and instructions.
- Showing empathy: Making an effort to empathize with the worries of the caregivers, the therapist is always ready and patiently addresses their concerns accordingly.
- Continuous caregiving: The therapist collaborates with staff from the paramedical team to ensure that the caregiving process is continuous. When necessary, they refer the caregiver to respective professionals for additional education and counselling.
- Practical learning: The therapist transfers their knowledge from preschool to the child’s home setting. Home visits are conducted to assess the environment and to give practical suggestions and strategies to the caregiver in coaching the child.
- Recommends additional support: The therapist identifies and suggests possible resources, therapy centres, training, courses, or workshops for continued caregiver education and support for the future.
Indeed, caregiving is a rewarding but challenging role. However, the challenges can be overcome with collaborative efforts between educators and the full support of the child’s family members in achieving his maximum independence and attain a better quality of life.