How to Create a Dream Team For Your Child

What is a dream team?

Your dream team is a group of people all dedicated to helping your child be the best person they can be!

By the time you realize that the voice in your head was right, and something really is not right, a feeling of panic sets in. You don’t know where to begin or what to do first.

You will be better able to make educated decisions for your child when you have a group of professionals with which to collaborate.

Here’s the lineup.

The Pediatrician

For us, everything started with the pediatrician. They are your first line of defense.

It is vital that you have a good relationship with your primary care pediatrician and his or her nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. If you don’t, find one that’s a better match.

Your pediatrician knows your child. They have the vast amount of training to identify problems early on, and to refer you outside services.

Our observation log was very helpful to our doctor. She was trained to pick up on red flags, notice patterns, and act on them. After reviewing our log, she was able to see that we were in need of further evaluation in the form of outside services. That became the next step on our path.

The Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists should really be called the play fairies.

Technically, an occupational therapist is a person who has been trained to evaluate adults and children who have a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability.

Watching an OT in action is fascinating! Since children’s main job is to play and to learn, occupational therapy for children often includes fun, educational activities.

While the activities mimic the play, they are teaching valuable skills and actually rewiring the brain to function more efficiently. For children with sensory processing issues, they use play to integrate their sensory systems within the environment.

In addition to working with children, an Occupational Therapist will provide coaching and support to parents.

A physical therapist will help you learn how to make your body work. An occupational therapist will help you learn how to make your mind work!

The Neuropsychologist

The neuropsychologist is like having a researcher on your team.

The neuropsychologist combines behavioral and cognitive psychology with the science and knowledge of the brain. They are fascinating people if you ever want to find out the WHY behind anything!

They look at HOW the brain is working at its most basic level of chemical connections, axons, and development. The neuropsychologist is the person who can thresh out the neurobiological issues. This would be your top tier man or woman. They are looking for the problems stemming from brain function.

A diagnosis from them could be things like ADHD, ADD, Autism, Aspergers, or other brain based disorders. However, there is always the possibility, as in our case, that your child will not completely fit any diagnosis!

The Behavioral and Cognitive Psychologist

Your therapists function as the mediators/middlemen.

Cognitive and Behavioral therapy are different from “talk” therapy. They require more work at home to supplement the time spent with the therapist and focus more on conditioning and learning new thinking skills.

This is the person who will be a huge help in managing the behaviors. We began working on the most pressing behaviors first, and that kept us pretty busy!

This type of therapy will be more effective for your child because it tends to be more concrete and goal based.

Here’s the problem, let’s work on a solution.

As a parent, you are typically allotted a small amount of time at the end of your child’s session where they doctor will talk to you about a specific strategy to work on during the week.

In addition to helping the child, the psychologist can, and should, provide coaching to you. They can guide you problem by problem in dealing with your child, as well as helping you to maintain the big picture.

The Medicating Psychiatrist

Think of the medicating psychiatrist as your Indian chief. He tells the other members of the team what you should do.

A medicating psychiatrist is an MD who specializes in psychiatry, and is the only one authorized to prescribe medication, other than your doctor. In many instances, he or she may be more qualified to handle meds.

This is a valuable person to see if you might be thinking about medication or it has been recommended to your child. He or she will perform an evaluation and help you decide if medication is viable method of treatment in addition to therapy.

If he recommends a specific course of treatment, tell your team member it pertains to, and they work on it.

Special Education Services at School

Special Education teachers or RSP teachers are your in-the-trenches people. They are with your child at school.

Special Education teachers provide additional support for students who have a determined need. These people make up the front line of your school team. If qualified, your child may be pulled from the classroom for a short period of time to work with the teacher, or a special education aide may come into the classroom to work quietly with your child during a key time of the day.

Your team at school is comprised of you, your child’s teacher, the special education teacher, and the administrator or other key people. Together, everyone will work to help your child have the best learning experience possible.

Putting It All Together

The more people you have involved on your team , the better. Everyone has a unique spin on what is going on with your child, and can offer suggestions that the other hadn’t considered.

It gives you a clearer picture of underlying issues affecting your child, and a plan for addressing those issues one at a time. A diagnosis might be nice, but a method for addressing behavioral issues is better.