One of the main questions for parents of children with disabilities over the last two months has been “What would happen if I became sick? Who would look after my child/children?” This is a concern for all parents, but particularly parents of children with autism or significant language delays.
Children with autism often have difficulties with social interaction, including establishing and maintaining relationships and communicating with others. This, in turn, affects how they interact with family members and friends. Some family members might struggle to understand or to cope with an autistic child; therefore, parents may have a limited number of people with whom they can leave their child.
Parents need to identify those who can help look after their child/children in an emergency and make a plan based on this. The current Covid-19 pandemic has reminded families that they need to plan for unexpected events.
As Covid-19 seems to be giving us a little breathing space at the moment, it’s an excellent time to make a plan and create a communication passport.
What is a communication passport?
A communication passport is a document that shares important information about your child to help other people to get to know him or her. Parents and teachers usually write the passport, but if your child can contribute, make sure they have their say. The passport is an important document, particularly when your child has to go to unfamiliar places with people they may not know well.
The passport has information about the little things that are very important and unique to your child. For example, your child may only eat a particular brand of bread, or be very sensitive to loud noises, or there may be specific things that they find upsetting. The passport will contain all of this information, so if your child has to spend time with someone else, they will have this valuable information to hand.
How to write a passport?
The passport is written from the child’s point of view and must be easy to understand. You can include pictures, symbols and drawings to make it more personal, so the child might even want to show it and read it to others.
Passports are typically printed and laminated or created in a digital format for easy sharing.
Make sure you include all relevant and up to date information such as what the child likes, dislikes, what is the best way to do things with the child, how to communicate, what to do when the child is upset and also include daily routines.
Who should have a communication passport?
Anyone who needs help to communicate important information about themselves needs a communication passport. Even children with autism who are verbal can benefit from having one, because the child may have difficulties communicating if they are under stress or overwhelmed.
Having an updated passport can also help relieve stress for parents. If there is an emergency, they will know that all the information is in one place and whoever is looking after their child will have the information they need.
How can I make one for my child?
I have created a small communication passport template for you to populate – you can download it from the link below.
This is a basic passport that you can print and fold like a flyer so you can always have it in your child’s bag.
When you download the document, you will see a sample passport to give you an idea of the type of information you can include, and you will also see the blank template for you to use.
It only takes a short while to fill in this communication passport, and it will give you the peace of mind that in the case of an emergency, whoever is looking after your child has all information they need.
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