Collaboration Among Autism Professionals and Families
- Publish Date: 2010/11/01
- Author: Relate to Autism
Outline: Collaboration between parents and professionals to best serve children with autism.
Main DigestRelate to Autism today announces its Virtual Office for Autism Professionals. A low-cost solution leveraging web 2.0 technology to facilitate collaboration between parents and professionals to best serve children with autism.
One in 100 children in the US are currently being diagnosed with autism. This number has been steadily increasing over the past decade with no signs of flattening off. Many families are looking for professional support but have trouble finding a local professional as the demand for their services is so high.
Those autism professionals who serve families everyday are left trying to balance the demand to take on more clients seeking help with the ability to provide personalized, quality service to each family. Aaron DeLand, a relationship-based autism specialist in Los Angeles, says, "Each child with autism needs a unique approach, figuring out what works for each child requires ongoing and close collaboration with parents."
For DeLand this has usually meant spending much of his time traveling to families' homes where he interacts directly with the child and coaches the parents. "It used to be that going to a family's home was the best way for me to collect reliable information about how the child is responding to what we are doing. I've always offered phone consultations but usually parents have so many questions they want answered that there is very little time left for me to gather big-picture information about the child's current progress. Making data-driven treatment decisions then becomes very challenging, so I used to spend a lot of time driving around the region."
An increasing client load also means more administrative time doing paperwork and scheduling sessions. DeLand considered hiring an administrative assistant but didn't want to have to increase prices for families. Instead he turned to the Internet for a low-cost solution.
The Relate to Autism Virtual Office provides autism professionals with a secure, online collaborative workspace from which to easily handle administrative tasks (scheduling, record keeping, billing and communications) while gathering very detailed data about how each child is responding to treatment. "The Virtual Office has made everything easier and more efficient. I schedule all my sessions with the shared calendar, keep track of my communications with each family through the messaging system and most importantly can log in at any time to see how each child is responding."
The Virtual Office for Autism Professionals is a shared online space that puts parents in charge of their child's records. DeLand invited each of his clients to join him at www.relatetoautism.com where parents then use the Parent Tools to manage all the other treatments they are using with their child. Parents can then access the Activity Tracker a unique, powerful tool that helps parents keep track of all the medications, supplements, foods, exercises and approaches they are using and keep a daily log of how their child is responding. The Activity Tracker then generates reports and charts so parents can quickly see what pieces of all they are doing are related to their child's improved development. Team Members, invited into the system by parents, can then login to add to and view this rich set of data. For autism professionals such as DeLand this means, "I can go in anytime, run a report and use this information to help me guide the parents without having to schedule a time to speak with them directly. The Activity Tracker also provides me with much more detailed and accurate information than when I was relying on the parents memory of what happened over the past month."
The Virtual Office was designed to facilitate collaboration between parents and professionals and across professionals from different disciplines who in the traditional service model my never connect with each other. Everyone on a child's team (selected by parents) can see input from other professionals, family members and helpers to create a more cohesive, child-centered approach.
The Virtual Office for Autism Professionals is available to professionals (therapists, councilors, psychologists, Occupational therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, nutritionists, doctors, etc.) in private practice for $200 a year at www.relatetoautism.com.
Relate to Autism provides online tools for parents managing their own child's treatment program. This new web technology allows parents and professionals to record the treatments they are using then analyze how each child responds to keep refining and improving the treatment approach. The secure online protocol provides a shared space from which parents can coordinate between multiple team members, share multi-media information, generate reports and schedule reminders, sessions and appointments all at www.relatetoautism.com. Relate to Autism also provides customized software platforms to family services providers and research organizations.
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