Cooperation with families of children with disabilities - the first part

The family is the most natural environment in which every child grows up, acquires basic knowledge and experiences, feels safe, develops self-esteem and all the potentials at its disposal. As a rule, the family is protective of their offspring and makes maximum efforts to make life easier and better for their children.

In our work, we are witnesses that working with parents of students is often very complex and demanding. In their ambitions and desire for their child to be "perfect", successful and without fail, they sometimes close their eyes to the problems and challenges that may arise during schooling.

In most cases, teachers consciously chose this profession, but during their education at their home faculties, some did not have subjects such as: methodology, pedagogy, psychology, and certainly there is no subject at any faculty that would teach us how to work with parents and family. So, they are not trained to work with parents. Some of us have a natural "talent" for communication, while others are less able in that relationship, and at the same time they can be excellent lecturers, transmitters of knowledge, creative and perfectly skilled and professional.

Since 2010, when the Law on Inclusion was passed, typical schools have been attended by students with various types of disabilities. Working with these children is a special challenge for teachers who have not been educated and understandably have discomfort, fear and insecurity in this work. Some of these students should certainly be surrounded by their peers, with the maximum engagement of all actors in the teaching process. However, for a number of children, this kind of work is not the best solution, because it is difficult for them to adapt to the requirements, but also to the atmosphere in these schools. Simply, they need silence, breaks in work, a large number of repetitions, understanding their needs, adapting all students in the class to their specific ways of advertising, behavior, needs, etc.

Families of children with disabilities often have an experience of reduced satisfaction with parenthood, which is associated with unfulfilled expectations. They have their own specific dynamics of life and family relationships, as well as meeting certain needs. Growing up, educating and teaching their children is a challenge in which they are often on their own. These are especially sensitive and vulnerable families, who need support. Their adaptation to the child's disorders is very diverse. As a consequence, they do not perceive well-intentioned remarks, instructions, recommendations as support, and then there is a mutual misunderstanding, which certainly harms all actors in the process of education and upbringing.

If the parent has positive previous experiences and trust in others (experts) as those who help him in the raising, education and upbringing of the child, he will get involved and be an active team player, which will be of great help to us as teachers.

In contrast, if the parent has had negative previous experiences (which happens in most cases), he can take a distrustful position and set himself up as an opponent in this work. In that way, we get an opponent from the associate, which can cause a whole range of problematic situations. Mutual mistrust and disagreement will certainly jeopardize the development of the child's potential, and bring us all into an undesirable situation.

That is why it is good to try to "get into other people's shoes" at the beginning and think about how we would feel in a given situation. Above all, one must be professional and clear. It is very important to have an empathetic attitude and to be kind, but not servile, which is sometimes confused. Each of the actors in this relation has certain expectations which can be disrupted by the reaction of the other party. Therefore, we should not forget that a parent is very often anxious, depressed, unrealistic, with a feeling of helplessness, and at the beginning we should assess the parental strengths and weaknesses and show readiness to understand and encourage every parent

To be continued...

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