New courses will support better mental health outcomes for children with disability
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > New courses will support better mental health outcomes for children with disability

New courses will support better mental health outcomes for children with disability

by Freya Lucas

September 02, 2022

Professionals working with children with a disability are now able to access a suite of online training materials, designed to support them to overcome communication barriers and better support children and their families. 


The resources, which have been designed for use by GPs, support workers, allied health professionals and others who connect with children and families, such as early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals, have been developed by Emerging Minds, a national infant and child mental health non-profit. 


Each of the two online courses offers practical skills and strategies to help professionals to provide more holistic support, placing the child at the heart of the discussion.


In Child centred and communication focused practice professionals will learn about the difficulties children with disabilities face when communicating their needs and preferences. It also explores challenging behaviours, which can sometimes be a barrier to having needs met. 


By participating in the course professionals will come to understand the communication behind the behaviour, in turn giving space to support children to  positively express their preferences, concerns, hopes and challenges.


In child centred and family focused practice professionals explore the significant relationships in a child’s life, acknowledging the expertise of families, and appreciating the depth of children’s strengths, hopes and needs, and how these can be expressed. 


The course also acknowledges the increased stress that family members of children with disabilities can often experience.


These two new courses build on Emerging Minds’ ‘Understanding child mental health and disability’ foundation course, which outlines key aspects for practitioners to consider when taking a child-centred approach to supporting infants and children with disability.


“Ultimately, we want to enable practitioners to better support positive social and emotional wellbeing in all infants and children,” Emerging Minds’ Practice Development Manager, Dr Daniel Moss said.


“Studies show that from the age of three years, a child with intellectual disability is already significantly more likely to develop mental health difficulties. If left unaddressed, these challenges can grow and continue into adulthood.”


“Any adult who supports a child with disability has an opportunity to contribute to their positive mental health. But often, the logistics and physical demands of a child’s disability can distract from their social and emotional needs.”


“As professionals, we need to keep in mind the different factors that can influence the mental health and wellbeing of children with disabilities. Incorporating child-centred, family- centred and communication-focused skills and interventions into our everyday practice will help us to better support both children and families.”


Emerging Minds has an ever expanding collection of disability-specific resources that includes online courses, podcasts, webinars and more. It has been created in collaboration with practitioners, academics, child and family services, child mental health experts, and the families of children with disabilities.


All of the resources are free and suitable for professionals working across a range of settings and may be accessed here

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