Building a Support Network: Reach’s Family-Centered Resource Wall

For parents and caregivers, particularly those of children with exceptional needs, the journey of finding top-quality care and providers who can both celebrate the child’s strengths and interests, while deeply understanding the underlying challenges that are impacting their child’s ability to thrive – can often feel like navigating a complex maze with many dead-ends, contradicting advice, and long wait times to access services. Recognizing these challenges, Reach for the Top Therapy, the only therapy clinic in the Dover, NH, area offering trauma-informed and neurodiverse-affirming therapies, set out to create a family-centered Resource Wall in their clinic to connect families with the right resources. This initiative aims to not only streamline access to care, but also to foster a community network where families can find support, understanding, and comprehensive solutions.

Sharing is caring: Sharing your journey can help another family navigate theirs

In March, Reach launched a survey to gather insights directly from families. The goal is to pinpoint the best providers for children with disabilities, drawing from the experiences and recommendations of those who have walked similar paths. This approach is rooted in the belief that sharing positive experiences can be transformative, connecting families with places and providers that have the necessary understanding and expertise for children with exceptional needs. When a family is in search of specialized care, the expertise and experiences with these professionals can make all the difference, especially amidst current provider shortages. However, the challenges often go beyond finding the right specialist.

Reach recognizes the importance of collaboration, particularly for complex children. This entails a team dynamic where all the providers involved in a child’s care – in hospitals or therapy clinics like Reach – communicate and collaborate effectively. By sharing perspectives, insights, and roles regarding symptoms and challenges, a more cohesive approach to care emerges. This stands in stark contrast to typical models of isolated care, where all the providers and specialists working with a patient don’t communicate between themselves. As a result, differing opinions and advice can leave parents confused and overwhelmed.

“Specialty hopping” is draining – both emotionally and financially

Many families are probably familiar with this scenario: A doctor refers a child to another specialist, only for that specialist to do the same, leading to a cascade of referrals without concrete answers. This “specialty hopping” not only delays access to necessary care but erodes trust in the healthcare system. Families are left on waitlists, navigating a maze of appointments, while symptoms persist, and the underlying needs of the child remain unsupported.

Additionally, this also has a significant financial impact. Each referral, each specialist visit, and each test incurred in this fragmented journey comes with a cost. This communication breakdown among providers doesn’t just cost families – it affects insurers, taxpayers, and all stakeholders involved in the care ecosystem. It’s a cycle that drains resources, time, and ultimately, hope.

This is one of the reasons why Reach’s Resource Wall is a game-changer for the Dover, NH, community. It’s a source of hope and efficiency in a landscape often clouded by confusion. By compiling a curated list of local, vetted providers and services, Reach is empowering families with a roadmap to navigate the complex terrain of pediatric care. This resource wall extends beyond doctors and specialists; it includes childcare centers, transportation services, haircut salons, local farms, and more. It’s a holistic approach to supporting every aspect of a child’s life, recognizing that their needs transcend medical appointments.

Connecting Community Services

This innovative family-centered resource network is aligned with Reach’s mission to empower families and advocate for children with exceptional needs, supporting a trauma-informed and neuro-diverse-affirming approach. By leveraging the expertise of their therapists and reaching out to local organizations, Reach is building a robust network of support. Over the last six months, Reach has engaged with various community nonprofits and businesses to deepen its roots and understanding:

Dover Children’s Home

  • Dover Children’s Home is a non-profit residential treatment program committed to providing high-quality support and services to some of New Hampshire’s vulnerable youth and their families. Reach’s team sat down with Director of Treatment Services Sarah Gordon and Clinician Savannah Fay to learn about their strength-based approaches to serving youth who have faced significant trauma. This collaboration aims to provide Sensory Groups to support these youths, fostering growth and healing.

Snapology of Dover NH

  • Snapology is a Discovery Center designed to help children explore STEM and STEAM activities through classes and creative play. This partnership allows Reach to host therapy sessions for Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech-Language Pathology (SLP), and Physical Therapy (PT) in a dynamic and engaging environment. For young learners, this hands-on approach is not just therapeutic, it’s fun!

New Hampshire Family Voices

  • New Hampshire Family Voices is part of a network of families and friends of children and youth with special health care needs/disabilities around the nation. Reach’s team met with Associate Director Sylvia Pelletier and Outreach Coordinator Deanna Taylor, who shed light on navigating the healthcare world for children with disabilities. This organization provides contacts for specialists and a lending library of books tailored to various disabilities, offering invaluable resources for families. They are top experts in navigating the complex maze of medical supports for NH.

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire

  • A collaboration with the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire allows therapists at Reach to have the opportunity to host therapeutic visits during the “Exploring Our Way: Sensory Friendly Playtimes” and regular hours at the museum. This inclusive environment allows children with exceptional needs to thrive, free from the overstimulating noises and crowds, then applying those skills learned with their family during typical hours.

1000 Hours Outside

  • Aligned with the mission of encouraging outdoor activity, 1000 Hours Outside promotes the importance of movement and exploration. This initiative resonates deeply with Reach’s holistic approach to care, recognizing the benefits of nature for children’s well-being – but also with two of its specialty programs “Branch Out” – outdoor peer groups and the Community Sensory Garden program in collaboration with the Dover Public Library and several garden centers in the area.

In essence, Reach for the Top Therapy’s family-centered Resource Wall is a symbol of collaboration, empowerment, hope, and the strength of community. It represents a commitment to providing not just medical care, but a comprehensive support system for over 300 patients with exceptional needs and an additional 600 patients the clinic projects to serve this year alone.

As Reach continues to expand its network, families gain access to a wealth of resources, providers have the opportunity to collaborate transparently, and the community becomes a more inclusive and supportive space for all children, all while ensuring they reach the right resources sooner.

2 replies
  1. Tristin Balistreri
    Tristin Balistreri says:

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