Who’s in the driving seat?

  • maximising independence

The role of the professional in maximising independence.

Our long-term aim is to maximise children’s opportunities. Enabling them to take their part in society as independently as possible. Maximising independence is one of the main yet complex roles. For those working with children with learning needs you need to define this role. To what extent do you understand your role in doing this? Do you perceive your role as protector, helper, or as facilitator? Skill developer or skill enhancer?

The aim is for children to reach their potential. In our quest to do this when high levels of support are often necessary; we can inadvertently tread a fine line. Are you in danger of over supporting, enabling dependence. Creating a culture of learned helplessness, rather than independence?

Who decides how a child is to complete a task?

Is the child asked, would they like help, before intervening? Do you ever stand back and let the child make mistake? Challenging them to find their own solution? Do you feel there is an expectation placed upon you by others to intervene immediately? How do other professionals perceive your role in maximising the child’s independence? Do people understand your role in this?

Equally, how does the child perceive your role? Do you think there is an expectation that you will do the task for them? Or, do you think they consider you as someone who will support them to develop skills and abilities at a task? Do you think the child recognises the importance of becoming independent? A child used a high level of support, does gaining independence hold any significance? What about the children with limited communication skills? How can you support their independence?

A good starting point is reflecting upon this is a shared understanding. Ask ‘who is in the driving seat.’ Who sits where in relation to the child? What is the role that each professional will play in maximising the child’s independence? There are times when the professional may need to take the driving seat position. Or take on the role of dual control operator. Teaching skills and tasks and developing confidence.

Top Tips

  • Ensure the child has a ‘voice.’ Involve them in planning their support. Support them to recognise the tasks they can do alone and those which they may need help with.
  • Support the child to take positive steps forward, to plan how they can reach their own goals.
  • Plan and deliver appropriate intervention and independent access programmes. To support the child in reaching these goals.
  • Build in time for the child to celebrate, reflect and measure their progress and success.
  • Reflect on your role. Plan your own objectives to help the child maximise their independence further. Review your progress towards doing this.

Want to learn more? Try PE6 Who’s in the driving seat course. Designed to promote the child’s independence and help you plan your role. Using a structured and practical set of training and self-reflection tools.

Watch our introduction video