Last week, I sat with my 11-year-old daughter in the office of a child therapist. The difficulties of fitting in as a tween with autism, coupled with the onset of hormones, are creating a perfect emotional storm in my otherwise exuberantly happy daughter. After seeing a YouTube video on “safe adults” for children to talk to, besides their parents, she came to me one afternoon as I was making coffee in the kitchen. “Who is my safe adult, Mom?” she asked in her unassuming, yet typical poignant way. I had ask what she even meant by that. “It’s someone I can talk to besides you about what is going on with me.” A safe adult; a trusted adult in her life to confide in. It took me a month to digest the truth: as much as she loves me and depends on me, I can’t be an objective safe adult she can talk to about our family, her peers and everything else her heart and mind needs to unpack. After a month of me dragging my feet, reluctant to admit that she wanted someone else to turn to in addition to me, we sat there as I blankly watched them play a game in order to get to know each other.
The game was Two Truths And A Lie. You state two things that are true about you and one thing that isn’t, and the guesser has to figure out which one isn’t true. This is especially tricky for my daughter as she is a terrible liar. I tried not to laugh as I watched this game play out. Once the clinical social worker was satisfied that my daughter was relaxed enough to discuss treatment goals, we started talking about what my daughter was expecting to get out of therapy and what I hoped she would get out of it.
The child therapist asked if she could connect with my daughter’s special education team at school. It seemed a brilliant idea to get everyone talking who was helping Carli navigate the emotional journey that accompanies peer relations at school. I rattled off a list of names and titles as she rushed to jot them down. Lastly, I got to the school’s social worker and told the clinical social worker a brief story as to why my daughter was working with her. It involved bullying and was the catalyst for how we got to the part in my daughter’s young life that she feels the need to seek out a safe adult to talk to.
Having just been remarried, I noticed things about my daughter that told me she was struggling to find her footing in my life and at home in general. Not that anything had changed in how I treat her, but sharing Mom (or anything for that matter) was not something she is particularly adept at. The child therapist said that she’d reach out to Ms. Romeo, the school social worker. She thought it would be good to get some background on what was going on at school and it would be good for them to stay in touch to see how therapy goals were mapping to success in school (or not).
The Clinical Social Worker Is Almost Never Involved In School Issues but Should Be
It hit me like a lightning bolt as I sat there signing forms and permission slips for her to talk to my daughter’s special education team. We were there to discuss issues with bullying in the school and how it affects her self-esteem and general feelings of safety and well-being. The very reason we were in this child therapist’s office was to talk about the emotional aftermath of things that go on during school hours but she was not ever involved nor would she really ever be. WOW! How can this be that the one’s so often treating emotional scars inflicted in school are not the working with the staff dealing with the issue in school?
We discuss bullying risks and events at my daughter’s IEP meetings, during parent/teacher meetings, over email with the administration and yet the person assigned to and paid for by me, her parent, to deal with the emotional fallout is barely going to be included and nothing outside of a phone call or occasional email. But she should be. She is a pivotal and crucial part of my daughter’s ability to deal with adversity in school. It’s amazing to me that there wouldn’t be any outcry to get those connected with our child’s emotional well-being connected outside the school setting to the people in the places where it is impacted: the school.
Make Sure All Parties Interested In Your Child’s Well-Being Are Collaborating
The best solution out there is a tool that connects the school with the outside world in a way that is secure and makes sense for all involved. Preferably that tool would also keep the as parent equally informed as any other member of the child’s education team. Now, Imagine if the school was apprised of clinical treatment plans or informed of emotional issues with the child and able to follow along with strategies the clinical social worker set in place for the child to work on?
The great news is that this tool actually does exist. It’s name is eCare Vault and it is the answer to how to connect your child’s clinical social worker to the people in the school system who are following their behavioral and emotional issues. It is a tool I will be promoting to my daughter’s school district, even though, like so many parents I wish we lived in a perfect world where children didn’t need to deal with emotional issues. And yet, knowing there are tools like eCare Vault gives me hope and empowerment. If you are like me, a loving parent wanting to make sure your child’s care is consistent inside and outside of school, insist on eCare Vault today.