Once you have an understanding of a child’s disability, engage in a way that meets the child’s needs. This will vary depending on the individual child and may include:
- Meet at a specific time or location chosen by the child or arranged with the child’s caregiver that suits the child’s needs.
- Use communications tools or visual aids to support communication between yourself and the child.
- Arrange for the child to have a caregiver or support person with them if required.
- Adapt written material to be visual or simplified, depending on the child’s needs.
- Break down complex information into simple, easy to understand concepts.
- Allow enough time to engage meaningfully with the child in a way that goes at the child’s pace.
- Ensure that the child or young person has their glasses and/or hearing aid if required.
If you are meeting a child for the first time, find out their areas of interest to help develop rapport and share a little information about yourself where appropriate. No matter how well you know a child or young person, it goes a long way to develop your relationship and show a genuine interest in the child prior to formal conversations.
Ensure the child’s voice is heard
Like anyone, a child with disability has the right to have input into matters that affect their life. Decisions such as who a child is going to live with, how often they want to see their parents and other significant people and where they want to go to school are just a few major decisions that require your engagement with children and young people to ensure their voices are heard. Two key factors to ensure you are engaging meaningfully with a child and they are able to participate in decision making relate to communication and creating environments that are accessible for the child’s physical, sensory and communication needs.
If you have concerns or want further information about how to engage a child with disability, talk to your Specialist Services Clinician.
The following video highlights the importance of listening to the voices of people with disability, rather than just ‘moving on’ because it’s difficult to understand them. In the video, the young man states “They change the subject because they don’t understand what I’m saying. Just tell me and I’ll find another way to explain”.
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