On Supporting Informed Parental Consent

Professionals have a duty to learn the most current, relevant, and nuanced information to support those they serve. Furthermore, their duty of beneficence implies a responsibility to support parents in acquiring the knowledge needed to better serve their children. Below are some ways to embody that responsibility.

 

To provide appropriate information to support parents in ethical decision-making, professionals should…

…expand their disability knowledge base beyond that which was included in their curriculum.

Most educational programs – even very good ones – are significantly lacking in up-to-date, inclusive information about disability. Professionals who fail to seek out this knowledge themselves will be unable to support their clients as fully as they otherwise could. Fortunately, many organizations such as Foundations for Divergent Minds offer continuing education opportunities.

 

…amplify the information disbursed by people with disabilities.

Parents of children with disabilities receive input from many people throughout the course of their young children’s lives. Doctors, therapists, teachers, and others are able to pass along what they perceive to be the most relevant information from their fields. However, many parents only receive input and information from disabled people outside of these settings. How many parents miss out on valuable information due to wariness of the conflicting information coming from a source outside the circle of professionals they interact with? Professionals who amplify the perspectives of the disability community in their professional lives honor the validity of these perspectives and inform future standards of best practice.

 

…model (and explain) honoring communication and self-advocacy.

Neurodivergent children are often “treated” through coercive methods such as ABA that are rooted in a goal of controlling behavior rather than supporting needs. The decision to honor communication and self-advocacy is in opposition to these coercive methods and usually look quite different from them as a result. Professionals often need to be explicit in modeling and explanations of honoring self-advocacy.

 

Offering high-quality, accurate information strengthens client/family/parent/community abilities to develop well-informed, nuanced perspectives. These perspectives form an important pillar of evidence based practice, enabling beneficent service provision.