Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Feb 21 2018

Finding and Choosing Supports

FREE TO READ: Choosing a Therapist for your Child: Ten things to think about, talk about and ask!

October 22, 2016

1. What is your therapist’s experience and specialty interest? Ask your potential therapists how long ago they graduated, check that they are registered with the appropriate body (more info at and what they’re really good at. A speechie may have graduated twenty years ago, but if they’ve only worked in aged care until this year, they may or may not be a good fit for your child. And a recently graduated OT may not have the skills to support your child’s behaviour needs, but maybe they have a senior therapist supporting them well? Ask questions!

2. Where does your therapist work? Therapists can work from a clinic base, in your home, at the playground, or in school. Purely clinic based work may not give your therapist a good idea of the challenges you have at home, and often children’s behaviour and needs are quite different in different places. If you have other kids, it might be really valuable for your therapists to see that interaction at home, and it might save you some stress getting the kids off to appointments. Some schools in SA are no longer allowing therapists in to work with children, so check with your school. And if your therapist can work with your child at school, do they pull them out of the classroom, or work with the teacher to make sure their work carries on for the rest of the week!

3. How does the therapist communicate with you? Does your therapist give you written “homework” after each visit, and is this useful for you or does it just sit on the fridge? What is the best way to share information with *you* and is the therapist willing to do that? There’s not a lot of point in a speechie visiting your child at school for a session every fortnight if you don’t know how to reinforce and carry on the work for the rest of time!

4. What does your therapist charge? Ask you therapist what their charges are – do they work with your child for a full hour, or 30 or 45 minutes? Do they charge travel time? Do they charge mileage costs? What are their charges for reports and assessments and is that included in the regular visit fee or is it extra? Also ask if they require up-front payment if you are Plan or Self managed. Here’s some information on provider travel for Agency managed NDIS plans:

5. How long is their waiting list? Many therapists have waiting lists – ask how long it’s likely to be for your therapist of choice. The waiting list may be short if they’ve just hired a new therapist to add to the team, but make sure you check out if their new therapist has the skills (or are well supported by seniors) and personality that you feel will work well with your child – don’t just go by the “brand” of the company or organisation.

6. What extra qualifications do they have? Some therapists have extra qualifications and actively engage in ongoing professional development, and are members of professional associations – I know a few OT’s who are also qualified in Circle of Security, and a Counsellor who is also an art therapist, and some psychologists qualified in equine therapy. You might even find a physio with training in Feldenkrais, so do ask! You might want to ask whether they have regular supervision or peer support.

7. What intensity and frequency of service is best for your child? Sometimes a short burst of frequent intensive therapy and practising time can do more to help reach a child’s goals than a regular fortnightly slog, but sometimes children need that regular consistency and slow relationship building. Ask your therapist how they work, and whether they (with you!) have any capacity for an intensive burst – these can be especially helpful during school holidays etc, so if you are working parents, you might have an opportunity to be more involved in your child’s work.

8. What is your therapist’s “exit strategy”? The ultimate goal of therapy (and parenting!) is to do themselves out of job! Talk to your therapists about how they measure progress, and at what point they think they may no longer be needed, or maybe only needed on an occasional consultative basis. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t think I’d like to have therapy three times a week for the rest of my life!

9. What is their approach to treatment and teamwork? I see too many children trot off to their individual therapy sessions each fortnight or week, with very little, if any, interaction between therapists. Yes, it *is* really important for your speechie and OT and counsellor and psychologist and physio etc to connect, and it might be up to you (or your support coordinator if you have one) to demand (and set up) those meetings, even if it is a bit like herding budgerigars! You might want to check if your therapist is OK with this. Have a think about group work too – children can learn an awful lot from being together, and so do parents – maybe a mix of group and 1:1 will help your child meet their goals much better than 1:1 only! If your therapist doesn’t do group work, can they point you in the direction of others who do? Also ask about their theoretical approach to treatment – this is especially important when seeking a psychologist’s support. There are many quality evidence based practises, and your psychologist should be able to explain some of these to you, and provide evidence of how well they work so you can make an informed choice.

10. Will the therapist help train your support workers? Chances are that for many children (and certainly adults), their support workers and parents will spend more time with the person with disability than the therapist. Is your therapist willing to work with your support workers to develop an individual program to build on therapy work outside of therapy visit hours? Can a physio give suggestions and support on how to encourage and practice skills at a playground, or in the back yard? I often suggest that the babysitter, grandma, or a support worker come to therapy sessions with parents and child to learn how to continue the good work.

Don’t forget, a therapist who works with your child one hour a fortnight is only with them .6% of their awake life. The other 99.4% of your child’s waking hours are with you!

And remember – with NDIS you *can* change your therapists!

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Feb 21 2018

NDIS Planning

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October 9, 2017

FREE TO READ: Little NDIS Tip for your Planning Meeting

When you have your NDIS planning meeting, or your review meeting, write down on a piece of paper your chosen method of money management for your plan and hand it in writing to your planner – this will hopefully reduce the significant number of planner/LAC errors in setting up the money management for people with disability and their carers.

I request Self Management please.

or I request Plan Management please.

or I request Agency Management please.

Maybe even take a photo of this piece of paper in the LAC’s hands, or a selfie with you handing it over? Though that may sound a little cheeky/obnoxious, I’ve seen so many plans come back with money management not as requested and LAC/planner denying the request was made…

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August 14, 2017

FREE TO READ:Top Ten NDIS Pre-Planning Tips –Sam Paior Sunday Mail, 14 August, 2017 pg2-3 of NDIS liftout

1. Keep a log or journal of your disability related needs over a week – write down everything you do or spend that you would not do or spend if you were not disabled. Give a copy to your NDIS or LAC Planner at your planning meeting.

2. Bring a copy of any recent reports or assessments from allied health professionals to your planning meeting, but don’t worry if you don’t have any – there’s no need to go and pay for extra reports before your planning meeting.

3. You generally don’t need guardianship or administration orders if an NDIS participant chooses someone to be their nominee. The NDIS recognises natural relationships with rare exceptions.

4. Think about goals that expand your world – try a new sport, join a new group, think about getting a job or starting a business, or moving out of home. Have two goals for the next year, and one or two longer term goals to include in your plan.

5. Decide how you want to manage the money in your plan before your planning meeting – Agency Managed – less hassle but less choice, Self-Managed – more hassle but more choice, and Plan Managed – less hassle and more choice. Plan Management can’t be denied to any participant/nominee who asks for it and the funds for it are on top of your regular plan funds.

6. Have a think whether you need or want someone to help you manage your NDIS plan – a parent, sibling or unpaid carer you trust. Ask them before your meeting if they are happy to be your nominee.

7. Your planning meeting can be done by phone, at the NDIS/LAC offices, out in the community, or in your home. Let your planner know what works best for you.

8. Join a peer support group, or join a peer community online (there are a lot of great groups on Facebook) to find out more about the NDIS.

9. At the start of your planning meeting (or sometimes before, on the phone) you will be asked a bunch of questions designed to figure out your levels of disability related needs. Make sure you concentrate and answer thoughtfully. These questions are a big part of what decides your funding levels.

10. Write up two weekly calendars – one of your activities and how your life looks now, and one of how you would like it to look if you had the funding you need. Give a copy of each to your planner.

Feb 21 2018

Health and Behaviour

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FREE TO READ: What are Positive Behaviour Supports – PBS?

August 18, 2016

I think these terms get thrown around a fair bit without a really strong understanding of what they actually mean. I’m guilty of this myself, but since working with a bunch of families and children facing some pretty gnarly behavioural challenges, I’m learning more everyday.

So, in layman’s terms, what is PBS? It’s a multi step process that starts with an evidence based (we have lots to prove it works) way of collecting and analysing information for each individual, about the reasons and triggers for their behaviours, and what the person is communicating through the behaviour. Once that info is collected and understood, PBS works to help that person to find less damaging ways to express themselves, and alternative ways to communicate needs and frustrations.

It also works hard to improve the life of the person, because often lousy behaviours are a way to say “I’m bored” or “I don’t like this activity” without using words (All behaviour is communication!!).

A PBS plan will give concrete ideas and ways to prevent, reduce and respond to specific and general challenging behaviours across all areas of life, and if it’s used consistently – at home, school, respite etc etc., it can make a HUGE difference in the person’s quality of life.

PBS doesn’t happen overnight. It can be a long, hard (and not cheap) slog for everyone – especially for the person with challenging behaviour, but the results will be much longer lasting and far more worthwhile than the older punishment based ways of managing behaviour.

NDIS funds can be used to develop a PBS Plan and implementation.

Here’s an awesome little six minute video from BILD UK that explains it better than I just did! Enjoy!

INFO: Calm in Crisis

B1 - Behaviour Calm in Crisis Kluth TGS

Adapted from: P. Kluth (2010).

“You’re Going to Love This Kid!”: Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom (Rev ed.). Baltimore: Brookes.

This article is from the website of Dr. Paula Kluth. It, along with many others on inclusive schooling, differentiated instruction, and literacy can be found at Visit now to read her Tip of the Day, read dozens of free articles, and learn more about supporting diverse learners in K-12 classrooms.

I walked into a fifth-grade classroom and saw a student with autism sprawled out on the floor. The classroom paraprofessional was standing over the boy, warning him, “Get up now or you won’t get computer time.” The boy began crying and then biting his hand. The paraprofessional’s voice became louder and more stern, “Get up now. Time to make a choice. You can choose to stand up or you can choose to lose your privileges.” This was a hard scene to watch; the situation was difficult to begin with but was made more challenging by the actions of the adult. Her words, tone, and posture drew more attention than was necessary to the child; did nothing to calm the young man; and undoubtedly, made the situation more problematic, not less.

Contrast this with another scene. Recently I was visiting a friend at the preschool where she teaches. As I walked in the front door I immediately heard the piercing wail of a young child. I couldn’t yet see the child, but any teacher or parent hearing this wailing would recognize it as “the real thing”. In other words, these screams did not belong to a child who was merely tired or cranky. These sounds belonged to a distressed, scared, frightened, angry, or otherwise wounded child. I listened for the teacher’s voice. Was the child being punished? Was someone scolding him? Was he even with a teacher? I began to walk faster.

As I rounded the corner, I saw a boy screaming and kicking on the floor. A teacher stood next to him, talking to him softly. I immediately understood why I didn’t hear her voice amidst the screams; she was talking to him but she was whispering. I stood watching them from a distance, touched by this gifted teacher’s poise and grace. The boy’s sobs subsided as she gave him a short hug, stroked his back, and continued whispering to him. She had a compassionate look on her face and her body communicated acceptance.

After about three or four minutes the child was calm and the two stood and walked back into a classroom. For the rest of the day I thought about how calmly and gently she had treated his crisis.


Consider the last time you lost your temper. Did you yell? Scream? Cry? Did you say things you would later regret? How did you feel when you were engaged in these behaviours? Embarrassed? Furious? Lonely? When most of us are in this type of crisis we need gentle support to calm down. We may need to take a short walk, curl up with a favourite book, find a place to be alone, or call someone who will listen as we share our struggles. In other words, we need support, understanding, and time to gather our thoughts. Students with disabilities certainly deserve the same attention and care that we might give ourselves.

This also means that an individual experiencing stress will most likely not be helped by approaches that are aggressive or lack sensitivity such as:

  • Loud voices; Negative statements or threats (e.g., “You had your chance”, “You made your choice, now you need to leave class”);
  • Taking away preferred or comforting materials or activities;
  • Physical redirection;
  • Angry tone or body language; and
  • Punishments (e.g., “You just lost a sticker on your behaviour chart”).

One of the most important skills a teacher can have is the ability to be calm and comforting in a crisis or “meltdown” situation. A comforting teacher may hug or hold a student or she may simply share encouraging words. Being comforting might also include touching the student’s hand, arm, or back in a reassuring way, asking them how they want to be helped, singing a favourite song, repeating a calming phrase, or simply keeping one’s own body relaxed.

Some teachers insist that it is best to be firm so that students “don’t get away with” behaving in a way that is seen as negative or disruptive. This punitive approach almost always serves to distance the teacher from the student and certainly fails to strengthen their relationship. It is ironic but true that the more a teacher may try to control a situation, the more out of control that situation may become.

In contrast, adopting a cooperative and compassionate orientation can help avert crisis or at least help to deescalate a difficult moment. While a student experiencing challenging behaviours might need to know how the behaviour is being interpreted or might benefit from information or teaching related to the behaviour, it is seldom (if ever) appropriate or useful to intervene in these ways while the behaviour is taking place.

When a student is kicking, biting, banging her head, or screaming, she is most likely miserable, confused, or scared. The most effective and the most human response at this point is to offer support; to act in a comforting manner, and to help the person relax and feel safe. Teaching can come later. In crisis, educators must listen, support, and simply be there.

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Feb 21 2018

Education and Schooling

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FREE TO READ: TIP: A letter to my child’s teacher for the new School Year

January 13, 2016

A Letter to my teacher

Schools love getting these letters about our kids at the beginning of the school year! Here’s a draft for you to cut and paste and edit as you like.

It’s just a starting point, but might give you some ideas!

Dear Mr/Mrs XXX,

I am xxxx’s Mum who will be in your class this year and I’m looking forward to working with you this year. I thought I’d give you a brief outline of who xxx is, and some info that might help you have an awesome year together.

1. Stuff I’m *really* into:

2. Things that really motivate me/ and ways to get me to be engaged/involved:

3. Stuff that scares me:

4. About my stamina:

5. Stuff I’m really good at:

6. Areas I’d most like to improve:

7. Interesting quirks of mine – sensory issues etc:

8. Health issues you should know about and how they affect xxx at school:

9. How to read/prevent/manage a meltdown:

10. Ideas for minimising behaviours that aren’t helpful at school:

11. A bit about my family, pets etc, and what we did in the holidays:

12. Other professionals in my life you may wish (and have my permission) to contact at some stage include:

What to expect from me: I am a pretty involved parent. I like to know what’s going on at school, but I don’t want to interfere with your job. I want you to know I am available by phone/email/text/carrier pigeon and hope and expect to be contacted with your queries, and absolutely as soon as anything looks like it might be hitting the fan. If you would like support from a therapist (OT/Speech etc) please let me know and I will do my best to make it happen.

What I would love from you: The sooner I know about any behavioural issues that are emerging, the better I can support you and we can be on the same page at home and school. I can support you by following through and using the same language and agreed consequences (including rewards) to help xxx make the most from school and friends.

Do you prefer email, phone, or a drop in before/after school to stay in touch? I’d also like to set up a face-to-face meeting half way through first term so we can check in, and one each term after that.

Can I also ask you to keep an eye out for which other kids in the class my kiddo is making a connection with, as I’d like to setup some playdates etc., but it’s hard for me to know which relationships might be good to encourage.

Thank you in advance for your work this year. I know that xxxx will need more of your time and energy than some of the other kids, but I want you to know I am grateful and my guess and hope is that you and xxx will grow and learn together this year, as well as have great fun!

Many thanks, Xxxxxxx

My email address is:

My Phone number is:

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Feb 21 2018

Centrelink and Other Services

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FREE TO READ:INFO: Discount flights!!!

January 7, 2016

PWDA (People With Disability Australia) are now administering the Qantas Carer Concession card (it used to done by NICAN but they were defunded) so you can now get a renewal or apply for the first time if you haven’t already.

The card is a little more expensive than it used to be ($50 for 3 years) but it is available again!

The card effectively gives a person (or child) with disability (who *needs* assistance *while* actually on the plane) AND their Carer 30% each off *any* domestic Qantas flight – including all sale fares – (or 50% if you fly business class).

You have to book any tickets via Qantas on the phone – do read the link to learn the fine detail. If you have a Companion Card, just attach a copy of it to your application for guaranteed approval.

This does NOT include any discount for international flights. When you book, check the fares online first and make sure they do NOT charge any phone booking fees as you can’t book online. If your operator questions this, or whether it applies to discount fares, just ask them to check with a supervisor and all should be solved! Happy and safe travels!