In case you are reading our blog for the first time, I would like to introduce myself.  My name is Emily Hayles, and I am a physiotherapist and the founder of Move and Play Paediatric Therapy, a children’s therapy service based in Mackay, Queensland.  We help children with developmental delays and disabilities learn to move and play to the best of their ability, and empower parents to know that they are doing the best they can for their child.

Having worked my entire career in the field of paediatrics, I have spent thousands of hours – both through my clinical work and also through research  – listening to, getting to know, and helping parents and families of children with developmental difficulties. And over those thousands of hours, I have been able to recognise some key challenges and concerns that these parents share:

  • They can feel unsure about what they should be doing in order to help their child to be the best they can be.  Even if their child is receiving great therapy and supports that the parents are really happy with, there can be niggling questions in the back of their mind – Are we doing the right things for our child?  Are we doing enough?
  • They can feel a bit overwhelmed, and sometimes a bit lost.  There is so much information out there, and conflicting information and their child’s needs change as they get older.  Not to mention the paperwork, the red tape, and the number of different organisations or services they need to negotiate with and coordinate.
  • They can feel stretched and strained.  Juggling their child’s needs in amongst the rest of the family’s needs can be difficult, and finding time for themselves can seem impossible.

Throughout my career, I have seen a number of parents struggle with these three key problems.  Some parents can take many years, some even decades, to ‘find their feet’ and feel confident in themselves that they are doing the best they can for their child.  I wanted to find a way to speed up this process for parents – a way to help them fast track from feeling uncertain to feeling more certain; from feeling lost and overwhelmed to feeling empowered.

Over the past 12-18 months, I have spent a lot of time thinking about “What are the key things that all parents of children with developmental delays or disabilities need to know and understand so that they can help their child to be happy and thriving?”  And having worked with and learnt from thousands of parents in my career, I have collated all that I have learnt from them and developed the BRAVE model.

Introducing ‘The BRAVE model’…

The BRAVE model provides parents of children with developmental delays and disabilities with a framework that they can use to understand their child’s needs and understand the approach, mindset and strategies they need to adapt to ensure they are doing the best they can for their child.  Ultimately, I hope that the BRAVE model can help parents to gain the courage, resilience and confidence they need to help their child to become as happy, healthy and independent as possible.

B – Be Aware

The sooner you identify your child’s needs and get help, the sooner your child can improve.  We support families to get help as early as possible, both at the time of identifying concerns or diagnosis and throughout childhood.

R – Recognise your child’s needs

All of your child’s needs are interconnected.  We help parents to recognise their child’s unique strengths, as well as identify and get help for their needs, across all areas of development.

A – Assist but don’t insist

Helping your child to develop ultimately involves helping them to become as independent as possible.  We guide families to explore all the available options to maximise their child’s independence.

V – Validate your child

To lead a happy and fulfilling life, your child needs to know who they are outside of their disability.  We help families to support their child to follow their passions, to connect with others in the community, and balance their therapy with free play.

E – Empower yourself

We believe that parents and other family members need to be supported equally as much as the child.  We support parents to look after themselves, find their support tribe, and fit their child’s needs into a life that they choose.

Why did I develop the BRAVE model?

I believe that parents know their children better than anyone else.  As a therapist I might help a child to start learning a new skill; however, in comparison to their parents, my influence on the outcomes for a child is pretty small.  It is a child’s parents who are going to have the most influence on their child’s outcomes and development. Parents and other family members are the people who spend the most time with their children, know their children the best, and will advocate harder than anyone else to ensure their child’s needs will be met.  So who better to empower with knowledge of the BRAVE model than parents???!

By empowering parents with a model that can guide them in understanding and making decisions about their child’s care, I hope to see a future where all children, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, have the opportunity to learn, develop and realise their value in life.

Do you want to learn more about the BRAVE model?

Over the next 5 weeks, I will be writing a blog post on each of the pillars of the BRAVE model, explaining each in more detail, and sharing examples and strategies that parents can use to help their child to thrive.  If you would like to make sure that you receive all 5 posts, please sign up to our newsletter HERE, or keep an eye on our Facebook or Instagram pages. At the end of the 5 weeks, I will let you all know about something exciting that I will be releasing in October – make sure you stay tuned so you don’t miss out☺