6.2.2 Effective partnerships

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Effective partnerships support children’s access, inclusion and participation in the program

Access and Participation Inclusion
How are you meeting the additional needs of all children at your service? Additional needs is the term used for children who require or will benefit from specific considerations or adaptations and who:
⦁ are Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders
⦁ are recent arrivals in Australia
⦁ have a culturally and linguistically diverse background
⦁ live in isolated geographic locations
⦁ are experiencing difficult family circumstances
or stress
⦁ are at risk of abuse or neglect
⦁ are experiencing language and communication
difficulties
⦁ have a diagnosed disability—physical, sensory,
intellectual or autism spectrum disorder
⦁ have a medical or health condition
⦁ demonstrate challenging behaviours and
behavioural or psychological disorders
⦁ have developmental delays
⦁ have learning difficulties
⦁ are gifted or have special talents
⦁ have other extra support needs.

As you can see additional needs covers a lot, but the question is how you support these children and families? The NQS wants us to ensure we have a great connection to all services in the community that can assist children and families.

Case Study – Type 1 Diabetic child in our group
Recently one child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, (born with it, not brought on by lifestyle) which meant we were thrown into a steep learning curve as no educator in the group had experience with diabetes.

First, we worked with a Diabetic Nurse and got some training. The nurse brought a teddy bear in and we practised giving an injection to the bear. We were all terrified about this part as we don’t like needles ourselves, so giving a child a needle was confronting the first few times. The nurse assisted with timings, readings of results and practical ways to deal with situations.

We consider ourselves lucky because Jane, an educator in the other room, is diabetic. Her knowledge and experience helped us a lot and together we reflected from many different perspectives, for example, what it would be like for the child, how best to communicate with the parents, how the experience could affect other children in the group, what learning we could extend upon and especially how to make sure the child didn’t feel singled out because of her diabetes.

Case study – excluded from care because child is autistic.
Recently we have assisted a grandparent as a centre refused care. This situation is a good reminder for us as educators to know our responsibility under the Law. The Law sits above the regulations and in this case, the Law says
(3) The guiding principles of the national education
and care services quality framework are as follows—
(a) that the rights and best interests of the child
are paramount;
(c) that the principles of equity, inclusion and
diversity underlie this Law.

All approved providers must comply with the law, and they must demonstrate how they have done everything possible to accommodate a child. Basically, you can’t say no because it’s all too hard. Generally funding is available from the Inclusion Support Program (ISP)

Exceeding theme 3: Families and community connection

Case study – What a parent of children with additional needs wish educators knew. Chelsea, mother of two children on the autism spectrum.

Before Diagnosis
“I wished the centre had a list of all the professional people in the community I could access, so my children could have received help quicker” said Chelsea, mother of two children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. “It took me a long time to find then go to all the medical specialists before getting a diagnosis. I knew my children were not right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I took them to medical professionals, but at first, they said nothing was wrong and this was very frustrating because 20 minutes later I would be in the noisy supermarket with lots of people and bright lights and the behaviour and meltdowns would start. But when my kids were in the quiet doctor’s surgery they didn’t display the behaviours.

When my kids started school, the teachers wrote in their reports about their learning problems. When I took those reports to the experts they started listening but then they wouldn’t diagnose my children until 6 years of age.

At the centre
I just wanted the educators at the centre to be more sympathetic. I know this is hard, but I felt they didn’t understand the stresses that I was going through. For example, it can take me a long time to get the children out of the house some days. Most are good but every now and then my child might have a meltdown, then it just takes time to get him settled before we can leave.

Toilet training was horrendous. The centre and I didn’t work together. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work with the centre, they didn’t want to work with us. I know my son and I knew what was working when it came to toilet training. I nearly had him trained then after a situation at the centre he reverted backwards and was terrified to use the toilet. I tried to seek information about what occurred but the educators said nothing happened.

More training is needed for educators
I wish my educators had a better understanding of children with additional needs, especially sensory processing disorder. Educators think children can snap out of it, but they can’t. So telling a child to calm down, or going in for a hug in a meltdown situation just never works. What works is for the educator to be there for when they are ready. Educators need to understand more about meltdowns and be taught that in the child’s mind that is the only thing that matters and it’s like they are in a loop that won’t break and let them see another way.

When meltdowns occur, don’t touch them, don’t tell them to calm down, make the room safe and don’t let the other children stare at them. Let them talk when they are ready. They will eventually come out of it.

More tolerance from educators
If he is having a rotten day, the educators need to support him and not judge, or worse still expect him to behave like a typically developing child, because he isn’t.

As a parent I feel that we are getting judged, getting to class and then work on time is not always going to happen when you have children with additional needs.

Educators fear children with additional needs
I find educators can be scared because they don’t know what to do with additional needs children or how to help them.

I wish there was a lot more support for educators.”
Chelsea


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