Finding out your child has a disability or medical condition can be difficult and bewildering. Parents of disabled children need support, information and advice as early as possible. Obviously all families are different, so at SNAP Cymru we provide a range of support for families through our Parent Partnership and Dispute Resolution services and also more directly with families through our Welsh Government Family First funded projects. One such service is our Sir Fôn Portage service which essentially provides an opportunity for children to develop through play – a service which gets a big thumbs-up from most parents
What does a Portage Home Visitor do?
Our Anglesey Portage workers Sian and Sandra offer key-working support for parents with young children from 0 to starting school age who have an emerging diagnosis of disability or severe and complex medical condition in order to promote better understanding and access to all the available services to families. They also provide regular support in the home to parents/carers of children from 18 months to 3 &1/2 who have a moderate developmental delay utilising the Portage model. Central to this approach is empowering families so they can help their child develop.
Our portage workers visits families regularly at home to offer help, advice, and guidance and give practical suggestions about what families can do to help their child. The help offered will vary according to a child’s needs, but things like, toilet-training and bedtime routines; information about what extra help is available (Family Fund, DLA etc) arranging a place for summer play scheme etc. Sian and Sandra use play to support children’s development, give family members ideas for activities they could try with their child at home, including support for parents to introduce their child to a range of sensory play and messy play experiences.
The service is not just for children with special educational needs – it can help any child who needs help with developmental issues. Our portage workers will help assess what the child can do across all areas of development and decide with the parent or carer on some long term targets broken down into small step activities
SNAP Works closely with other professionals helping the child or family and sometimes makes joint visits with other professionals involved with the child.
For example; our Portage worker was able to form a close relationship with a family during weekly visits. As a result, the parents were assisted to keep on top of appointments and sessions were delivered for the parent and little girl, as she had missed so many of her nursery sessions. Our portage worker also came up with a very effective but simple solutions to help the parents continue attending the child’s appointments; a pin board and bright coloured post-it notes. This particular child has speech and language difficulties and although our Portage worker is currently using a visual materials symbols for instructions the long term goal is still to develop the child’s ability to speak.
In addition, the child has been re-referred to speech therapy and appointments with a Community Paediatrician and Community Dental Practice have been re-arranged. By arranging a transfer to a school within the family’s catchment area, her attendance at nursery has improved. A crucial relationship was formed through working with the Nursery’s with the SEN Early Years Co-ordinator, pre-school Education Psychologist and with Uned ABC and concerns about the little girl language development were shared.
SNAP’s relationship with Barnado’s locally allowed us to provide support during an initial meeting regarding Mindfulness sessions focusing on depression and anger issues.
In addition in order to address the Mum’s low self-esteem a volunteer with SNAP Cymru met up with the mother to research opportunities for returning to further education or finding employment. Mum think the “service is brilliant!”