Benefits of a Multiple Disciplinary Approach for Family Support
You may have heard the saying “if some is good, then more is better”. While this may not always be the case with enjoyable things like ice cream or time in the sun, this rule generally holds true for supports for families with children diagnosed with a physical or behavioral disability. When various support networks and professionals are connected with each other and advocating for the best interests of the family involved, we call this a "multiple disciplinary" approach (1).
Families are generally grateful for the variety of expertise and experience in providing support to specific areas of what a child may need help with. For example, a family may receive a referral for an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, and a physical therapist for the same diagnosis. These three professionals may have different goals in terms of their specific areas of focus, but they are all working towards the larger goal of supporting the care, independence, and ability to thrive for the individual possibly in need of additional support to navigate their environment more optimally.
For one family, the ability to potentially access these resources is a relief in terms of the village that they are putting together to make sure that their child has everything that they need. On the other hand, it can be equally overwhelming if these practitioners place different emphasis on different approaches, they are all around town, or they are increasingly difficult to gain access to whether it be time, availability, or insurance coverage.
The gold standard in either situation is the one where the diagnosed individual and family feel empowered about their options, supports, and ability to provide the best environment for their loved one. Ideally, this would include collaboration across every major stakeholder as a practitioner or supporter of the family working in the context of the family’s resources, preferences, and goals. While a full explanation of legal rights for the individual and their loved ones is beyond the scope of this article, it is the hope that this article may show one way that a family can reap the benefits of a multiple disciplinary approach.
Who might make up the members of a multiple disciplinary team?
- Diagnosed individual
- Immediate and extended family members
- Pediatrician or nurse practitioner
- Gastrointestinal or other medical specialist
- Physical Therapist
- Case worker
- Religious leaders or other community supports
- Other specialists working directly with family members related to a child’s diagnosis
- Insurance navigator
- Board Certified Behavior Analyst
- Speech and Language Pathologist
- Licensed Social Worker
- Occupational Therapist
- Family Peer Support
For better or for worse, there are many groups that have devoted their professional careers to being a resource to others. With the right integration and collaboration, it is possible to bring these experts together for the best supports in the context of the family’s values and desires.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways the professionals at Gemiini use Discrete Video Modeling (DVM) to enhance learning and contribute across disciplines by further exploring the last five professionals on the list above.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Area of Expertise: Behavior change with a focus on the function of a behavior or how that behavior is serving a purpose for the individual
Gemiini Integration: Discrete Video Modeling through Gemiini has been utilized by “presenting those rote tasks that we have traditionally used flashcards or provided repetition of concepts to teach with technology; this allows us as behavior therapists and teachers to focus on what we really should - building capacity across settings and educating caregivers on how to support generalized use of the skills we ‘front load’ through technology,” explains Dr. Maria Gilmour, BCBA-D and the Chief Clinical Officer at Gemiini.
Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP)
Area of Expertise: Communication including speech sounds, language, literacy, and social communication
Gemiini Integration: SLPs typically work with clients less frequently than BCBAs and therefore are interested in providing clients with opportunities to practice what they are working on in a clinical setting in other environments. With Gemiini, SLPs can create short videos to target specific speech sounds, expand speech skills, work on specific vocabulary, or work on concepts for more fluent conversations. Parents and caregivers are empowered to practice what their loved one is focusing on that week through Discrete Video Modeling.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
Area of Expertise: Supporting the meeting of an individual’s needs through mental health therapeutic services and connections to resources in the community
Gemiini Integration: Depending on the subspeciality and location of services provided by an LSW, face-to-face time with a client may vary from acute triage of a difficult situation for a client to consistent skill-building sessions. Specific skills that may have been taught in sessions can be practiced and seen as a visual support for families outside of sessions. For example, a client may be practicing the way that they respond to a stressful situation during a weekly session with a LSW. A Discrete Video Model example outlining the steps to take can be viewed at home as a reminder of how to practice engaging in that practice when the professional isn’t with them.
Occupational Therapist (OT)
Area of Expertise: Therapeutic rehabilitation and teaching of physical skills to engage in independent daily living routines
Gemiini Integration: The goals of all therapies and supports should include a client-centered approach and look at the context of a person’s current needs and future goals. An OT may evaluate a person’s daily living functioning and propose an individualized, sensory-friendly approach for a child to get dressed and brush their teeth independently. For these types of activities that occur at least once every day, Discrete Video Modeling can assist in breaking down the steps needed to complete the tasks in order to practice and master each step. After an OT reviews the steps that can be completed independently and which steps need support, they can assign individualized visual support for the family to review whenever they need it and in whichever environment is most appropriate.
Family Peer Support
Area of Expertise: Lived experience, emotional empathy, and trained professionals in utilizing resources available for a disabled family member
Gemiini Integration: Two questions that often come up for families immediately after a diagnosis involve the theme of, “What does this mean?” and “What do I do next to support my loved one?”. While the professionals and practitioners can offer clinical support, many families find hope and comfort in talking with someone who has been in the shoes that they now find themselves walking in. In other words, talking with parents who also asked themselves these questions and found resources to support them and move forward. Gemiini’s Product Support Specialist team are not only experts in navigating resources that may be most relevant for a parent or member’s request of support, but many of them are parents of diagnosed children and can provide that added perspective of navigating this new experience themselves.
- Individuals receiving any specialized services are usually best supported with multiple disciplinary collaboration, oftentimes even required for many insurance providers
Gemiini can help to bridge the work on targeted skills to other providers and into the home/family setting
Empowered parents/caregivers with more supports exhibit less stress and better clinical outcomes (2)
Specialists, involve all members of an individual’s multiple disciplinary team for best outcomes and generalization across environments.
Parents and caregivers, continue supporting your loved ones and advocating for the supports that they deserve.
Gemiini members, we will continue to do our best to create spaces and supports where your authenticity and desires continue to shine.
About the Author:
Lauren Kline, MS, BCBA, LBA is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst licensed in Arizona and Texas. She has experience in the clinical setting working with individuals with autism as well as applying Applied Behavior Analytic services to diverse health needs. Lauren is a Lead Board-Certified Behavior Analyst at Gemiini Systems.
(1) Choi, B. C., & Pak, A. W. (2006). Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education and policy: 1. Definitions, objectives, and evidence of effectiveness. Clinical and investigative medicine. Médecine clinique et expérimentale, 29(6), 351–364.
(2) Iadarola, S., Levato, L., Harrison, B. et al. Teaching Parents Behavioral Strategies for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Effects on Stress, Strain, and Competence. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 1031–1040 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3339-2