How one-page profiles can help parents feel confident when entrusting others with the care of their children. This story illustrates the benefits of capturing the rich information that a mother knows about her child on one page to help others support, play and communicate with her children.
Written by Alfie’s mum.
My son Alfie is a cheeky seven year old boy with a mischievous personality, a wonderful laugh and all the usual sibling rivalry you would expect between him and his twin sister. Alfie has Downs Syndrome and as well as receiving ‘Carers Support’ funding we have access to various activities and clubs which he loves to attend.
I first realised the value of a one-page profile for Alfie when taking him to these clubs. It isn’t always possible to tell someone all the important information they need to know about his likes, dislikes and triggers for behaviour in a conversation. We used the profile to capture this information and share it easily with the people who would be looking after him.
As Alfie does not talk, I wrote down everything I could think about him. At first, I had difficulty differentiating between ‘what is important to’ Alfie and ‘what is important for’ him. I sent it all to our Family Footings Facilitator, Yvonne, who guided me and supported me to condense my statements.
Eventually I detailed on a single sheet of A4, with special Alfie photographs, ‘What I love about’, ‘What is important to’ and ‘What is important for’ Alfie. I printed copies to hand to carers, church, school, and all his activity clubs; which included, cookery, street dance, football, acting classes, special needs group and baby ballet.
At some of the groups that Alfie attends parents are not allowed to stay and observe. Leaving the one-page profile with him gave me confidence that Alfie would be treated as an individual even when I wasn’t there to help him communicate.
It makes a huge difference to me to know that the person caring and looking after Alfie has been given some insight and knowledge of him as a person. They do not need to ask, “What does he like to do?”, they know. This enables me to concentrate either on his twin sister or to use my ‘respite’ time to do what I need to do. By having this tool, it visually reminds the people spending time with Alfie what they can do to make it more enjoyable for him. It gives them options, if necessary, to help lead and guide him in his play and it enables them to communicate with him in a way that they know is important to and for him.
Alfie’s profile achieved everything we wanted it to achieve. It captures the rich information I know as his Mum and helps me to share it easily with others. Even his grandparents have one and use it. I appreciate it so much that I made his twin sister one too. She doesn’t have a disability but it saves me having to explain about her as well and she is as important to me as Alfie so it wouldn’t be right to do for one and not for the other.
I share the concept of the one-page profile with others whenever I can and explain the benefits and simplicity of such a succinct piece of information which is readily at hand. If we have a babysitter I just give them their profiles, saying this is very useful and you will refer to it. It gives me time to then explain routines etc. Before knowing about one-page profiles, I was forever telling people what he did and didn’t like and although the lists were not exhaustive I would always forget an important bit and then have to ring back with “just one more thing”. Now I know for sure that when I entrust the care of my children with someone, especially with Alfie, as he cannot talk, they can easily refer to the one-page profile and as such will be following my beliefs, wishes and respecting me as a parent and person, as well as respecting Alfie and Alice.