How to Include Children in their Own Collaborative Teams

Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast – Episode 34

by Adina Levy

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In this episode, I wanted to share with you a brief section from my recent webinar, Collaborative Connections, where I talked all about how you can actually get children involved in their collaborative teams.

I’m going to share practical suggestions about how you can actually involve children in these situations so that they can be a core part of their own journey. Their self advocacy ability can increase when you support and guide them and you’re including them in their whole process. You’re supporting self determination, choice making, and honouring them as a whole human by showing them the value of their own perspectives

Keep learning with me!

Register for the Communicate and Connect Webinar Series for Professionals who support Neurodivergent Children using discount code BUNDLE 25 for 25% off until midnight 12th of June 2024!Β  https://courses.playlearnchat.com/offers/8BDd2eoH/checkout?coupon_code=BUNDLE25


The 3 webinars in the series are:

  • Responsive Relationships: Communication Strategies for Professionals to Connect with Neurodivergent Children
  • Collaborative Connections: Coach and Communicate with Carers & Teams of Neurodivergent Children
  • Supportive Spaces: Creating Inclusive and Accessible Environments to Support Neurodivergent Children in their Communities



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Speech Therapists – get on waitlist for my Affirming Communication for Autistic Children course! Doors are opening in June and those on the waitlist get the best offers! – https://playlearnchat.com/speechie-course


Welcome to the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast for adults who support Neurodivergent children. Whether you’re an allied health professional, medical professional, education professional or a parent of a Neurodivergent child, you are welcome here.

This podcast is recorded on the Aboriginal lands of the Gadigal and Bidjigal people. I acknowledge the traditional owners elders past and present, and I extend my acknowledgement to any Aboriginal first nations people listening in.

I’m Adina from Play. Learn. Chat. I’m an autistic ADHDer, a speech therapist, professional educator speaker, and I also support Neurodivergent Business owners in my other business, neurodivergent Business Coaching and Consulting.

I’m obsessed with creating a world when Neurodivergent people are understood, embraced, supported, and celebrated. A world where we Neurodivergent people can understand ourselves and thrive in a life aligned with our individual strengths, wants and needs.

On the Exploring Neurodiversity Podcast, you’ll get my perspectives and conversations with my Neurodivergent friends. All about how adults can best support Neurodivergent children in our lives.

I bring a Neurodiversity Affirming approach and indeed a human affirming approach to the support that we all provide for Neurodivergent kids in our lives.

Let’s dive in.

I wanted to share with you a brief section from my recent webinar, Collaborative Connections, where I talked all about how you can actually get children involved in their collaborative teams.

I’m going to share practical suggestions about how you can actually involve children in these situations so that they can be a core part of their own

journey. Their self advocacy ability can increase when you support and guide them and you’re including them in their whole process. You’re supporting self determination, choice making.

And honouring them as a whole human by showing them the value of their own perspectives.

Just before we dive into it, if you’re listening at the time that I’m releasing this podcast episode, you’ll be able to get 25 percent off my communicate and connect webinar series, which is for all professionals who support neurodivergent children. That includes allied health professionals, medical professionals, education professionals for children of all ages, where I teach in three webinars.

About building responsive relationships between you and the child directly. I teach about collaborative connections. So not just how you involve the child in their collaborative teams, but actually how you go about having meaningful, productive collaborations with all the people who support that child.

And I’ll be teaching about supportive spaces. How you can facilitate spaces that are Accessible, inclusive, and support connection and communication.

So if you’ve already joined me for these webinars, thank you so, so much. And if you haven’t yet, You get 12 months access whenever you register. So check out the link in the show notes and you will get a 25 percent discount if you use the code BUNDLE25. It’s valid until the 12th of June, 2024. If you are listening after that time, then, you know, you’re still really, really welcome to join.

One more very exciting announcement before we dive in to our strategies my course for speech therapists, Affirming Communication for Autistic Children, the doors are opening in June, 2024. over 250 other speeches have already joined. If you’re on the wait list, you are going to get the best offers, the best value, the best bonuses. So again, the link is in the show notes. So go to playlearnchat.com/speechie-course .

You can find out when we’re opening and get yourself on the wait list. I hope that you’ll join me in the Affirming Communication for Autistic Children course. if you’re not ready to dive deeper yet, that is absolutely fine. Keep listening to the podcast, join me on Instagram, wherever you can find me. I’m just so glad that you’re here and learning.

And I really appreciate you taking the time to level up your neurodiversity affirming practice and your confidence in supporting neurodivergent children. All right, let’s hop in to our strategies about how we can include children in our collaborative connections.

Let’s turn for a moment to the question of how actually we go about including children in our collaborative. Conversations connections. How do we bring them into the picture? It’s all good and well to say. Include children. How. So obviously how this looks will be different for each of your industries, your workplaces, your settings.

You can take the ideas from here that fit your setting, your situation. And think which ones that will be most useful for you.

Firstly, keep coming back to why we’re doing it. Why are we including children in these collaborative connections? We are respecting the child’s autonomy when you include kids. You’re bringing in their perspective, you’re honoring the fact that they are the center of their world and they should be. And of course, all of this is going to be adjusted to their level of understanding, communication and engagement and all of the things that are unique to that child.

It is of course super important to bring parents and carers into the conversation. And I hope that they are part of your collaborative team as well. And while parents and carers are really important here. They are not the core person. Remember that the child is at the center of the parents are just next to them. So they have a big say in what goes on for their child. Absolutely. But at the same time, Do you try to ensure that they’re not speaking for over the child wherever possible. In many cases, the parent does need to be a big communication support for that child.

And of course there’s safety and security support for that child to. But we want to try and ensure that the child has their own capacity to share their thoughts, beliefs, perspectives, challenges, goals, questions. Rather than just allowing the parent to only speak for the child. It’s a tricky balance there.

When you are having a collaborative meeting, whatever that meeting looks like, try to think differently. Let’s step out of this idea. Let’s say it’s a school setting. Step out of this idea of eight professionals sitting around a table with a child in the corner feeling absolutely terrified. Wondering what on earth they’re doing there and feeling really unsafe to share their perspective, say anything, feeling like they’re being talked over and talked about and that they are a problem. We don’t want that.

Get really creative in terms of how meetings look, how communication looks. It doesn’t always have to be a meeting. Remember it can be a set of emails. It could be a set of video calls. It could be. Drawings that a child contributes. It could be all kinds of different ways. Of how that collaborative connection actually goes about happening.

So think about meeting format. Think about the location, where these situations happen, where the interactions occur. And if you are indeed going to have a meeting, think about.

How you can set up that meeting. The agenda, the space, the location, the duration, the time of day, so that it meets a wide range of attention, sensory and communication needs. Primarily for the child, but actually for everybody involved to.

Ensuring psychological safety is key here. This means making sure that the child feels safe and supported in this whole process. If it’s going to be a meeting, absolutely consider who should be in that meeting. People who support the child and people who are essential to the core of that meeting. But really rethink who should be out of that meeting. Is there a teacher or a support person or somebody who normally. You know, status quo, you would bring them into this collaborative connection meeting. But in this case, you know, that that’s somebody who the child is having friction with.

And maybe there’s a case for leaving that person out of the meeting. The whole thing here is to support the child. So if you’re bringing in a person who. Judges the child who terrifies the child. This is going counter to our whole agenda to the whole plan.

We’re not going to get self-advocacy. We’re not going to get sharing. We’re not going to get openness from the child. If the people involved in that interaction are not safe for them. Sure that you’re clarifying who everybody is. So the child understands who everyone is and name their role in maybe their formal time, but really what that role is. In relation to the child. So it doesn’t really mean a lot to a child necessarily to say here’s a Diener and she’s a speech therapist. You might share something like here’s a Dina and she helps kids with.

Communicating sharing and connecting with other people. Obviously adjust the language to the child’s level and the way that they understand these support people in their world.

Make sure that everybody is briefed before the meeting with anything that’s like a summary about the child’s needs preferences, current strategies that are working. All with a strengths based perspective, that’s going to help set the scene for having this collaborative conversation with the child present. With a strengths based view.

Hopefully. I really hope that that comes through. It does help in many cases, but there are some systems and settings where this negative. Problem view of Neurodivergent children is quite apparent and it’s going to take a lot to change. We’re all working there. Step-by-step.

When it comes to communication. Think about visual supports that you can bring into that collaborative connection to bring the best of the child’s communication, both receptive and expressive, meaning you want the child to be able to understand what’s going on as much as possible. And you want them to be able to contribute and share as much as possible.

A lot of that might happen ahead of time as well. So you might be working with the child for them to prepare their contribution to this collaborative connection. In a more individualized setting and they might be able to present, share, show handover something visual to contribute in that moment. So they’re not relying on communication. Ability in that meeting or setting.

Some of the visual aids and tools that you could use to facilitate this communication. And again, not just for the child, but here we’re specifically thinking about supporting the child’s inclusion. It could be things like choice boards, communication boards, photos of spaces that you might be talking about, or even physical examples of activities, materials that you might be sharing, talking about and engaging with in that meeting.

And above all, we need to make sure that we are living all communication is valid, encourage and honor all forms of communication. We are not just asking the child to get up and speak in front of a bunch of people. That’s not going to be safe in many cases, even if that child is somebody who can access speech in many settings in their life.

Your job, if you are facilitating, bringing in this child to the collaborative connection. Situation is to allow, promote model and engage in all forms of communication, whatever is best for that child in that moment, that is the way that we will communicate with them. And that is the way we will respond to them and support their communication.

I hope that these tips have helped. I’d love to hear from you, which tip you’re taking into the future, which key one or two tips are you going to implement and how are you going to do that? How will you make it fit your practice, your setting, your role. Feel free to send me a message on Instagram. I am @play.learn.Chat. The link is in the show notes as well.

And I remember speech therapists hop on the wait list for the affirming communication for autistic children course. And anyone. Including speech therapists. If you are a professional who supports Neurodivergent children, you can get 25% of the communicate and connect webinar bundle right now. Up until the 12th of June 2024.

Thank you so much for sharing this space and time with me. Thank you for being open to learning and unlearning and to listening to the perspectives and experiences of Neurodivergent folks.

If you found this episode helpful, please share it with a friend, share a screenshot on Instagram, pop a five star rating and a review in your favorite app. And join me on Instagram and Facebook.

I’m πŸ“ @play.Learn.chat. Have a spectacular day!


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