Siyakwazi’s Inclusion Tool in Review
At the start of 2021 Siyakwazi launched the Inclusion Tool. The tool is a comprehensive assessment which focuses on 5 key areas of development in which children are measured based on what they are able to do within each development area or subcategory.
- Gross & Fine Motor
- Cognitive & Maths
- Language & Communication
- Social. Emotional & Participation
- Functionality & Independence
Milestones in the tool go up to approx 5-6 year old development in children who do not have apparent or profound barriers. The purpose of the Inclusion Tool is twofold, 1) it supports understanding of where a child is currently at and then can be used to measure progress over time; 2) It supports appropriate development of children focusing on laddering activities to achieve a desired outcome. In some cases the nature of a child’s disability or barrier may mean that they will be unable to ever achieve a specific milestone, but with 33 development milestones being measured it is possible for a child to still have appropriate activities and developmental pathways established.
Another benefit of the Inclusion Tool is that it gives parents the opportunity to understand their child better and to also support the parent with establishing realistic goals for their child. Over the years Siyakwazi have seen how sometimes parents become disheartened when they don’t observe progress in their child. This can often be attributed to either unrealistic goals or unrealistic time frames. The tool supports parents in seeing the potential of their child, but then also lays out more explicitly the steps to be taken to get there. For instance if the end goal is walking, then the tool can guide a guardian, ECD practitioner or the Siyasiza through the various stages, like crawling, standing and finally walking with assistance. This laddered approach to learning and development is part of Siyakwazi’s ethos and is present in almost all our programmes.
Where a child is unlikely to achieve a specific goal due to the severity of their disability, Siyakwazi supports the parents in seeing the other areas of development that the child is doing well in, and where progress can be made. The tool therefore supports the holistic development of a child and helps a parent recognise and celebrate the small steps/ successes.
The Inclusion Tool does not measure every child that presents with barriers and was especially designed for children who present with moderate to severe and profound disabilities. In this way, a child that has a visual impairment for example and needs to wear glasses to support their development, needs to rather be supported using age appropriate milestones that ensure the child moves forward according to their ability and potential.
A total of 46 children and their parents have received an assessment and support with the Inclusion tool in 2021. Of these 20 children were reassessed at the end of the year (following a minimum of 6 months intervention of the tool’s activities). 85% of these children had improved in their development. The tool is by no means a method of comparison between each child’s development. The nature of disability means that each child experiences his or her barriers uniquely and so his/her development will be different. It is possible that whilst a child is improving well in one area that another area may decline. There are therefore always a number of factors that need to be considered. This is the first time that Siyakwazi has a tool which can measure the improvement of children supported through its Inclusion programme and will be invaluable in the holistic development of children with disabilities.
Not only has the tool supported the development of children with disabilities through Siyakwazi’s Inclusion programme, but it has been a critical step in the transfer of skills and capacitation of Siyasizas and parents when it comes to supporting children with disabilities. Whilst not a replacement for an assessment from an Occupational Therapist (OT), it can be seen as an extension of the OT services offered through Siyakwazi’s Resource Centre. The milestones when adopted correctly and activities are in many ways similar to what a child may receive through an OT consult. This transfer of knowledge and skills is important in addressing the sustainability of Siyakwazi’s programmes.