The National Portage Association is “named after the town of Portage in Wisconsin, USA. It was developed there as a way of supporting parents in helping their children in their own homes” http://www.portage.org.uk/. It is a charity that works closely with the county council community services and provide educational play therapy for children with additional needs.
They work with profiles and developmental checklists which feed into the journals used by early support services and educational settings, helping to identify additional needs, strengths and targets for future learning.
Our Home Visitor has been fantastic!
Of all the people we have met through early support services she is the one who has got to know Twinkle the best, partly because she has had such regular contact, but mostly because play therapy is fun! She gets to see more of Twinkle’s developing personality than anyone else and bring out the giggles in her.
Another dimension has been that she is a parent of a child with additional needs herself and therefore has been in our shoes. Of course this isn’t a pre-requisite for providing caring therapy to a child, but it really does make such a difference emotionally for me as a parent knowing that I am speaking to someone who really does understand a lot of the journey our family is taking.
Our Home Visitor has been a regular visitor and friendly face to the whole family. Someone to answer questions about the often confusing early support, health and education system and the person who sorted out the gaps in support for Twinkle for us - the involvement of Visual Impairment team (much needed as Twinkle has cortical VI) and a referral for Music Therapy (which Twinkle loves and really brings her to life!). The portage service in our area help to run weekly groups for children with additional needs at various children’s centres around the city. They have also been running an annual portage party!
We went to the party last year and it was great to meet lots of other families similar to ours and to be in an environment where we were all ‘normal’! We met some lovely people who we have since kept in touch with (in real life and also found we were in the same online support forums - small ‘additional needs’ world!).
However, now that Twinkle has gone up to 15 hours at nursery we have come to the end of our entitlement to portage visits and we had to have a very emotional (for all of us!) sign off visit a few weeks ago. My little baby is growing up and growing out of early support services ready to start school! And we will really miss our regular visits from our lovely friend…...I really hope we will manage to keep in touch!