Health care:
Help your child take charge
Adults with disabilities talk about how to empower your child
 
Health-care professionals will play a big part in your child’s life.

At Bloorview’s Growing Up Ready Transitions Conference in May, four young adults with disabilities shared tips to empower your child in these relationships.

Thank you to Sarah Evans, Ashleigh Judge, Dolly Menna-Dack and Jennifer Zubko for these insights.

Encourage your child to keep a binder of notes from medical appointments. Initially you can model this by keeping your own.

As an appointment approaches, ask your child to write down questions and concerns or communicate them to you. At the appointment, use the binder questions as a starting point for conversation. Ask the professional to fill in responses so that your child has a written record of what was discussed and recommended.

Teach your child the names of body parts and medical terms related to his or her disability, using picture symbols or signs when necessary. This will give your child the language to communicate with professionals.

To promote your teen’s independence at medical clinics, you need to sit in the waiting room! Encourage your child to choose someone else — a friend, family member or attendant — to come as a support. This will encourage health professionals to relate directly to your child.

Teach your child the boundaries of a therapeutic relationship: professionals may be friendly, like acquaintances, but they are not friends. Some children with disabilities have trouble relating to peers and may befriend professionals.

Once boundaries are crossed, therapeutic relationships can be more harmful than beneficial.

Let your child know that technology is designed to promote freedom, not to oppress.

One young woman said she was extremely upset when she was prescribed a wheelchair to get around high school. She feared it would make classmates see her as more severely disabled. She learned that equipment doesn’t define who you are — your heart, soul and mind do.

Allow children to make the final decision about equipment. This will help them see it as a tool to improve life, rather than feeling it was imposed.

Help your child find a team of adult health professionals before he or she leaves the pediatric system. Go shopping for these professionals. It’s important that your child finds people he or she can relate to.

Seek out adults with disabilities who can mentor your child. Through Bloorview’s Mentorship Program, children aged eight and up develop relationships with young adults who can talk about how they’ve navigated their own transition and help your child set independence goals. Call 416 425 6220 ext. 3204.

 

BY JOANNE MILNER
To promote
your teen’s independence
at medical clinics,
you sit in the waiting room!

 

Bloorview Kids Rehab | Bloorview’s Resource Centre