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Learning your child has a disability can be a scary process, filled with lots of uncertainty.  It can take many years to feel confident that you are doing the best you can for your child with a disability. The BRAVE model is here to help you in your journey as a parent of a child with a disability. The BRAVE model aims to help you gain the knowledge, courage and resilience that you will need to help your child to live their best life. 

In this article I share the top tips from each of the 5 parts of the model. These will give you a head start in helping your child be the best they can be: 

The Brave Model 

B: Be aware (and act early)

  • You know your child better than anyone else. If you have concerns about your child’s development, trust your gut and seek help early.  The sooner you can get help, the sooner you can get started helping your child.
  • Although receiving a diagnosis can be upsetting, please remember: A diagnosis does not need to determine what your child can achieve. 

R: Recognise your child’s needs

  • All areas of your child’s development are interconnected and have an impact on each other. It is important to understand your child’s individual strengths and needs across ALL areas, both now and in the future, to help them achieve their best potential in life.

A: Assist, but don’t insist

  • The overall purpose of childhood is to help your child to become as independent as possible. Let your child make choices, let them initiate and do activities by themselves. Embrace technologies or equipment that will help them to become more independent. 

V: Validate your child

  • Let your child develop their self-identity and help them to develop their self-worth and value. You can do this by presuming your child is capable and giving them responsibility. In addition, support them to pursue their passions and interests.

E: Empower yourself and your family

  • Ultimately, you and the rest of your family need to be supported to ensure the best outcomes for your child. Make sure you look after yourself both physically and mentally.  Choose your battles, take time out when you need it and support each member of your family. Build a tribe of people who you can call upon when you need them.

If you want to know more about the BRAVE model, ‘Braver Than You Think: How to help your child with a disability live their best life’ is a book worth reading. Based on the BRAVE model, this book is filled with clear information and practical advice and strategies. It will help you develop confidence in helping your child be the best they can be. You can purchase a copy HERE, Book Depository, or Amazon.

Emily Hayles

Emily Hayles is a North Queensland physiotherapist, founder of Move and Play Paediatric Therapy, and a Mum to 2 small children. Emily has worked with, listened to, and learned from children with disabilities and their families for her whole career.  She is passionate about empowering parents to lead their child’s care, and supporting children of all abilities to live their best lives.