Thursday, April 21, 2011

Are Parents Important?

Not if you believe the policies of many insurance companies and government agencies. If you have a child with severe problem, the parents are often ignored by the policies and procedures of the organizations that are presumably assigned with paying for their treatment. This includes Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance agencies.

Let's say you have a child of four that has been diagnosed with a severe behavioral issue such as Autism. (It is now known as the Autism Spectrum or AS.) If you seek out treatment for your child, you may find that the persons doing the assessment or treatment will rarely if ever ask for your insights, ideas or suggestions. Nor will they include you in the treatment meetings.

That is insane but it follows a traditional Medical Model that sees the problem as lying completely within the body of the Identified Patient (IP). Despite the fact that the parents are with the child many hours each day and know his/her behavior quite well, they will rarely be asked for input on the treatment.

The Medical Model is based on the notion that the Doctor or Occupational Therapist, Counselor or Nurse is treating the disease and only the person with the disease is to be included in the treatment. That means that the parents, siblings, grand parents or peer supporters are ignored and no one can be paid for including them in the process.

In our research with families with a child who has a disability we heard over and over again how no one ever asked for their input, opinion or wisdom. This included their hospital, school and church. (Let me add that this is not the case at the Life Way Counseling Centers where we always include the parents when possible.)

Why are parents ignored when both common sense and forty years of research shows how important the are to the successful outcomes? It is a simple answer. Follow the money! Insurance companies and government agencies have rules that forbid it. Rules in Medicare and Medicaid are often senseless, cumbersome and anti healing. yet, whatever the Federal Government requires all insurance companies will follow.

We at Sweeten Life Systems are fully committed to including parents, relatives and friends in the caring process whenever possible and reasonable. We have just launched a program to do that called, The Village Initiative w Parents or VIP. It could stand for Very Important Parents or Very Important People. This initiative values parents and relative and friends as critically important to the health and welfare of persons with a disability.

No one. I repeat NO ONE is more important to the care and health of a sick person than their family. If the family is dysfunctional the child will not get his or her needs met.

I have a Masters and Doctoral Degrees in Counseling. I have forty years of experience but No medical or psychological expert knows more about how to care for a child than the parents. Together we can be a great care and healing team.

If we leave the parents out of the diagnosis and treatment of children costs will rise and outcomes be reduced in effectiveness.

PS. If you are interested in taking part in the VIP process, contact me at and go to Sweeten Life web for more information.

No comments: