Thursday, July 30, 2020
Beyond Developmental Supports for a Child Refugee
Zahid is a 10-year-old boy who moved to the United States 18 months ago with his parents and 3 younger siblings. He and his family are refugees from Syria. Zahid was born in Syria after an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. Zahid's parents first became concerned about Zahid's development when he was 9 months old because he had not started cooing or babbling and did not respond to his name. At 3 years, a doctor in Syria expressed concern that Zahid may have autism spectrum disorder; however, his parents did not know what symptoms triggered the concern and believed his behavior was because of his ongoing exposure to trauma.
Zahid underwent a full evaluation 1 year ago in the United States and was found to meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder. Coaching was provided to his parents in obtaining appropriate educational support for their son, and a referral was placed for applied behavior analysis (ABA) to be provided by an organization in the community. After several meetings between the parents and school administration, an Individualized Education Program was initiated. Despite acceptance into a community-based ABA program, Zahid has not begun the intervention because of transportation difficulties. In-home ABA was offered but was refused by the family.
The family is under significant stress. Zahid is nonverbal and has displayed behaviors affecting safety, including wandering/eloping and turning on kitchen appliances resulting in a kitchen fire. Zahid's mother completed high school, and his father completed sixth grade. Both parents speak limited English, and neither is employed. The family receives financial support through the government, but this will be ending soon. Zahid's father is concerned that employment outside of the home will further limit his ability to transport Zahid to necessary appointments. Zahid's mother does not drive. Zahid's father requests that the physician provide a letter requesting exemption from requirements to participate in work or training programs because of Zahid's needs. How would you respond to this overwhelmed father?