Making a video diary of your child with special needs can serve several needs. From helping with diagnosis to your own personal sanity and encouragement, grab a camera and start today. Below are the top 5 ways I used a video diary with my daughter since she was 20 months old:
1. Help professionals diagnose your child.I had made a montage of footage that I found concerning that lasted 90 minutes. I told the first psychiatrist we had found that I would meet with him only after he reviewed the video and I would pay him for his time to watch the video. The reason I did this was to avoid putting me and my daughter through an extensive and expensive evaluation process over several sessions. If he watched it and shared my concerns I would consider the next steps of evaluation. That ended up saving me a lot of money interviewing doctors and helped to speed up the diagnosis. It is interesting to me that many of the signs and symptoms I can so clearly see now, such as hand flapping, staring spells and echolalia, I didn't actually notice until I replayed the videos back.
2. Use with teachers and care providers.Every year you change teachers and find yourself explaining all of the same behaviours and coping skills to new people. Use video to demonstrate how the child uses tools such as visual schedules, aids or service animals. You can also show stimming and meltdowns to prepare the new teachers for what to expect and how you handle these situations.
3. Use for your own sanity. I needed to document my daughter and her severe anxiety to remind me, and potentially her some day, why we made the decisions to medicate. It can be very hard to make decisions when you are under so much stress. Every time I watch this I know I made the right decision for her and for the rest of our family.
4. Use for encouragement. Sometimes the day to day meltdowns hide the small progress that is being made behind the scenes. Sitting down and watching video of your child a year prior can remind you of how far they come with their goals. Make sure when you are video taping you get the good and the bad not just the bad.
5. Use for social stories. If you make a trip often to the same place, take a video of your child going. Capture only the good behaviours and use the video to reinforce before you make the trip again. For example, going to the library or grocery store.
What to video tape:
3. Any concerning behavior
4. Repetitive or obsessive behaviors
5. Seizure like activity
6. Pretend play
7. Interaction with other children
9. Sleeping habits
10. Communication skills
11. Outings to public places
12. Classroom behavior
13. Making patterns
Basically, attach a video to your hip and know how to use it quickly. As for number 12, I did actually request that the school video tape my daughter in her classroom to prove to me that she was demonstrating the goals on her IEP. The school did abide by the request as long as I provided the tape. It really was reassuring because you don't know until you see for yourself!
So find a good camera, something small and portable that you can stick in your purse or bag. Find some easy to use editing software and make sure to have the date stamp turned on. Once you have a good amount of footage, you can use the editing software to highlight the key points for whatever your purpose is for that collection. Keep your raw files in a safe place for future use.