I had the opportunity to speak to Rebecca Leacock, founder of Growing Together Therapy, and educator for parents with children who have special needs. In this time of confinement, Rebecca and her team are able to reach out to families to help them with how they can work and play with their children even in confinement. In fact, online sessions with parents have a number of advantages that may change your perspective of the most efficient way to have these programmes.
See our full interview here:
Rebecca works with the parents of children with special needs and gives them plans on how to communicate, play and manage their child who may have difficulties expressing themselves. She does this completely online, either through Skype, Zoom or Whatsapp with the parents.
She says that there is no real need for the children to be in the same office as their parents with the therapist where they are also an audience while their parents express all their concerns to the therapist about them.
In the current lockdown situation, therapy sessions don't need to be interrupted and if anything, it's a great opportunity to have both parents involved now. Online sessions with Rebecca also opens up a solution for families who currently don't have access to their normal therapists during the lockdown.
Even outside the current situation, online sessions save families countless hours of getting everyone in the car, driving to the therapist's office, having restless children around and then driving home again. Sessions are conducted in the comfort of your own home, with the option of having the children out of earshot but still close by.
Parents are also able to record their children's behaviours and send them to Rebecca, something that is hard to capture or observe in an office at the right time. Sessions can also be recorded and shared with anyone else in the family - spouses, grandparents, siblings - so that anyone who wants to participate in the child's development can really get involved as well.
Rebecca works with a network of therapists, all available online across France, so she'd be in the position to redirect you to a specialist depending on the concerns of the families. Rebecca stands as the main point of contact so that families need not repeat the history each time they see another therapist within this network.
There are many families in France who delay seeking a diagnosis or treatment for their children because they're unable to find an English-speaking therapist. Even if they are comfortable in French, there could be a waiting list of 2 years to go through the French system to see a therapist and even many more years to get the official diagnosis as young children are notoriously difficult to diagnose. With Rebecca, therapy can already commence even without an official diagnosis and she can even help to guide families with recommendations on who to see and what the diagnosis could be.
The first session with Rebecca is free so that the families can assess whether they can get what they need from these sessions and every 30 minute session thereafter is 30€ - which includes an email after with the run-down of what was discussed as well as the activities and action plans that the parents can carry out with their children.