What he can do, not what he can’t do

An example of how this mum has used one-page profiles to support her son well at school and to ensure that the family’s relationships with health professionals are equal and balanced. Marianne wanted to introduce her son by describing what he could do, not what he couldn’t do; the one-page profile was the perfect tool.

Written by mum Marianne

Alex's one-page profile

Alex’s one-page profile

When my son Alex was about to start pre-school I knew there would be things about his support needs that I needed to be able to communicate to his teachers.  However, I really didn’t want to introduce him or for him to start school life with a long list of things that he needed help doing. I wanted the new people in his life to meet him as the cheeky, funny, confident little boy that he is.

Alex has Down’s Syndrome and from the very early days it has felt like professionals can often be more interested in what he can’t do rather than what he can do. I just didn’t want his education experience to be the same.  Unfortunately it already felt like it was going to be. I found myself filling in statements of special needs for his assessments and I realised how easy it would be to fall into this mindset. I wanted to counterbalance this with positive statements. Starting school was a massive milestone for Alex and I was determined to start him off on the right foot.

Alex’s one-page profile sets out how we want him to be treated, what is important to him and how he wants to be supported. We had used the same profile when Alex attended a short term respite centre and had a very positive reaction, with staff feeding back that it really helped them to understand him.

Using a one-page profile with Alex and his school means that we can be sure that we are presenting him in the best way and have the confidence that people will support him well.  Alex loves playing with his friends, tasty snacks, TV programmes, bubbles, singing and playing with water. He can need support when eating – to be reminded to slow down, he doesn’t understand danger –  so needs people looking out for him and he uses Makaton to communicate so it is essential that people  use this method with him.  His one-page profile covers all of this and much more and is in a simple easy-to-read format so can be picked up and understood quickly.

We update Alex’s profile every  year and I love charting his development and growth in this way.  Each year we see he finds new interests and discovers greater independence. My favourite part of updating his profile is talking to his classmates about what they like and admire about Alex. It is so nice to hear that he is well liked and fun to be around.

Since using a one-page profile with Alex and realising its potential I have introduced one for our family too. We find that we interact with so many health professionals, it sets out how best those relationships can work for us. For example, it is easier for us to have meetings on Thursdays and we prefer to have the opportunity to review paperwork in advance of the meeting. Setting out our stall in this way is empowering. It puts us on a more equal footing and as such we are in a stronger position to advocate for our son.

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