Working with disabled children
childcare can provide an excellent setting for caring for disabled
children. Each child is different and it's important to get to know
each child really well as an individual to understand how best to
meet their needs.
Special educational needs
Understanding of the child's specific needs will come as you
observe the child, and use what you see and hear to help you
understand how the child is developing and what activities and
experiences you can offer that will help their development.
Speaking in detail with a disabled child's parent is crucial as
well - after all, a child's parent knows them best.
These principles hold fast for working with disabled children
and those with special educational needs (SEN), just as much as for
working with other children. The most important thing to remember
is that disabled children are children first – you should focus on
the child as an individual and not on their impairment or
condition. (This is called the "social model" of disability.)
Vacancy matching service
PACEY's vacancy matching service, in partnership with iChild,
allows you to advertise your vacancy and promote your business as
offering specialist care for disabled children. If you're a
childminder member of PACEY, update or add your listing today.
Visit MyPACEY to access your vacancy matching
Getting to know disabled children
When you talk to the child's parents, base your discussion on
asking them to describe a typical day in their child's life, and
ask the same kind of questions you would ask when preparing for any
new child, such as:
- What does your child like to do?
- What do they enjoy playing with?
- What kinds of things may they need help with e.g. putting on
shoes, washing, using the toilet, meal times, and how should this
- Do they have any specific health or dietary needs?
- What do they like to eat?
- What other settings do they go to, such as a preschool/ nursery
class, school, or residential breaks?
- What else do I need to know in order to meet your child’s
specific needs? (You can use this question as an opportunity to
open up discussion about possible medication, invasive treatment,
physical access requirements etc.)
Invite the parents and their child to spend some time in your
home before the childminding arrangement begins (as you would do
with any new child), to discuss ways you can adapt your service to
ensure their child is fully included and feels secure. Above all,
be positive and welcoming and emphasise that you want to provide
the best possible care for their child. This will help parents feel
more confident that you are pleased to accept their child, and to
adjust your setting to meet the child’s needs.
You could ask whether the child is already part of an Early
Support Pilot Programme, or holds an SEN Statement or has a
Parent-Held Child Health Record. Information from records like
these can help you plan appropriate care.
It is important to look at the needs of each individual child.
Don’t make assumptions, for example that all children with a
particular condition or impairment need constant one-to-one care,
or that disabled children can't be cared for alongside their
non-disabled peers, or require specially adapted furniture and play
equipment. Many disabled children require you to make little
adjustment to your service; others may have a number of specific
needs that could involve intervention.
Parents are always your best point of first contact. Discuss
with them how they get advice on the best ways of looking after
their child, and ask if you can share access to this expertise. For
example, you may be able to talk to health professionals or the
Area SEN Coordinator (SENCO). Why not find out about toy and
equipment loan services in your area, and whether you could join a
childminding network which would be a source of extra support and
is known primarily as a cerebral palsy charity it offers a wide
range of training and free download resources for parents and
practitioners on all disabilities and impairments. You can also
access their web tool, Celebrate every step. The tool enables
parents and the team around a child to track progress in young
children with complex support needs through play.
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