Families are the most important continuing relationship in the lives of people with a disability. Families spend more time with the person than anyone else in most cases, and are there as a backup if things go wrong.
As a result, parents need to be the senior partners in decisions surrounding their children under 18, and significant contributors to decisions around their older children with a disability. Similarly, siblings can make very important contributions towards ensuring a good life for their brother or sister.
While human service staff come and go throughout a person’s life, families are there for the whole lifetime in most cases. As such, the relationships with family members need to be supported and not overridden by ideologies of ‘client choice’ without deep considerations of the implications.
Families can feel lost and unsure about what direction is best. Inclusion or segregated education? What should I be teaching at home? What should we be doing about planning for the future? What can we do when things go wrong? Include has a range of ways that we can assist families.