Collaboration Can Be HARD!

5 Key Strategies to Improve Collaboration

by Adina Levy


Such a nice word right?

We all pretty much agree (I think!) that collaborating with other people to support neurodivergent children is important. But it’s not always easy, and when two people in a child’s support team (this could be therapists, families, teachers, medical specialists etc) have different philosophies or different approaches, collaboration can be HARD.

There are ways to work through this, and they won’t always be successful but they ARE all useful tools to have and to try!

So here are my 5 key strategies to improve collaboration with a team supporting neurodivergent children:

1. Build Empathy – Each person in the support team brings their own beliefs, experiences and motivations. Being open to others’ perspectives can reduce defensiveness, and paves the way for effective communication and collaboration.

2. Ask open-ended questions with curiosity – If you practice a curious mindset, it can really take you far. Avoid jumping to conclusions and assuming where somebody is coming from, or that their approach is intended to be harmful. With open-ended questions, you’re supporting an open dialogue to understand each other in more depth.

3. Take time to reflect and process in private – A useful strategy especially when emotions are getting heightened. When you explicitly share that it might be beneficial to separate, process, plan and reflect in private, this can lead to a deeper, more understanding, more regulated and constructive collaboration.

4. Assess possible outcomes – A really useful tool for both participants – take each other’s perspective in more depth, and really think about the outcomes in an objective way. Try to think about the positives and negatives to realistically evaluate each person’s approach.

5. Collaborate to come to solutions together – The logical outcome when you’ve practiced empathy, curiosity and assessed outcomes. Work together towards a solution. What it doesn’t look like: one person dictating the approach to everyone else. It’s not about winning or losing, but about supporting the child’s best interests at the center of it all. Collaborative efforts mean everyone involved feels a deeper investment and ownership of the plan, actively living and testing it.

Win win win.

It’s not easy, but it is worth it, for the best outcomes for all involved, and especially for the neurodivergent child you’re supporting.

Let’s keep this conversation going! I’ll be sharing a lot more ideas, strategies and tools to support you to be a better collaborator when you’re part of a team around a neurodivergent child.

Join me for my webinar Collaborative Connections: Neurodiversity Affirming Practice – Change the World Around Children: Coach and Communicate with Carers & Teams of Neurodivergent Children.

Tap below to learn more and join!

🎧 To know more about collaborating in supporting neurodivergent children, listen to my latest podcast episode: How to Navigate Conflicting Perspectives When You Collaborate to Support Neurodivergent Children!

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