As an individual with autism or the parent of a kid with autism involved in a family conflict, you may have a variety of questions regarding the mediation process and its accessibility. Here, we address some of the early questions you may have regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder, mediation, and how it may be customised by all parties to provide the best beneficial atmosphere and outcome for you. Solent Family Mediation Surrey welcomes all clients on the spectrum, and our mediators are qualified to organise the sessions around your requirements!
What is Spectrum Disorder of Autism?
Autism is a spectrum disorder and a chronic, lifelong developmental disability that presents commonly in early childhood. Approximately 700,000 adults and children in the United Kingdom have currently been diagnosed with autism, according to the National Autistic Society. Autism typically affects a person’s ability to communicate, self-regulate, maintain relationships, and interact with others. However, it is important to remember that autism is a disorder on a spectrum, that its definition changes as we learn more about the condition, and that it affects individuals differently.
In the United Kingdom, the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) issued by the World Health Organization is the standard for diagnosing autism in children. Non-verbal or unusual speech patterns, trouble comprehending symbolic or metaphorical communication, difficulties establishing or retaining friends, limited or repetitive behaviour, motions, activities, and noises may be early indicators of autism. This list is incomplete: Autism may emerge in numerous ways, at different times of childhood, and to variable degrees.
What is the nature of mediation?
Mediation may appear to be an intimidating endeavour and a foray into unexplored terrain. Nonetheless, our objective is to assist you comprehend the procedure and the various benefits it may have for you and your family. We have divided the mediation process into four stages:
- The initial meeting is the Mediation Information and Evaluation Meeting (MIAM). You will get the chance to comprehend how mediation can perform most effectively for you and your household. This session can last between 45 minutes and 1 hour, and you will discuss the mediation process, the best dispute resolution format for you and your family, the benefits of mediation, the anticipated number of sessions, the likely costs of using mediation, and your eligibility for publicly funded mediation through Legal Aid. To be eligible for Legal Aid, you must either be receiving a benefit that is eligible for passporting, such as Universal Credit, or have a low income. For further information, please contact our staff.
- Once you have attended your own MIAM, we will invite the other party to mediation through letter. If accepted, they will attend their very own MIAM. If they are also determined to be amenable to mediation, you will proceed to combined mediation sessions.
- At the MIAM, the family mediator will explain the various forms of mediation and help you determine which is best for you. These include cooperative mediation, shuttle mediation, and consultations with children. To find out more, click here.
- Next is the Mediation Agreement. In your first Joint Session, you will be supplied with this paper, which explains how mediation works and specifies the norms of mediation. Before beginning the session, you and your previous partner are needed to sign this. Please note during your MIAM if you would want a copy of the agreement prior to your joint mediation session, and your mediator will be pleased to assist you!
- The mediation procedure involves working with your mediator and ex-spouse to reach an agreement on how you and your family will live after the divorce. There is no set duration for mediation, and it can span many sessions depending on the severity of the disagreement and the number of issues to be resolved. To get the most out of mediation, you should create an agenda of topics you’d like to have covered throughout your sessions. Click here to learn more about the mediation procedure.
- The ultimate outcome: at the conclusion of the family conciliator, your mediator will describe how you may obtain legal counsel on any proposals you have agreed to and how they can become legally enforceable agreements or court orders. A mediator will never tell you what to do; this is the fundamental principle of mediation. Instead, they may recommend that you visit with another appropriate specialist or explore the available choices.
- If no agreement can be reached, your mediator will give you with a signed certificate allowing you to initiate the court procedure. Ultimately, the choice is entirely yours!
Can I or my autistic kid participate in mediation?
The brief answer is yes! All clients have access to mediation, which is a voluntary, self-directed, court-adjacent method of dispute settlement. At the MIAM, where you will have the chance to discuss your case with a certified mediator, you can bring any information pertinent to you, your case, or the mediation process to their notice. If you have autism, you can address this with your mediator and explain any accommodations that are necessary. During the MIAM, you will be able to express your concerns about the mediation process and work with the mediator to address them.
The majority of our lives have shifted online over the past two years, from grocery shopping to family court. Fortunately, Solent Family Mediation Surrey are years ahead of the curve, and our current 100% virtual service model is just as accessible, if not more so. Zoom and WhatsApp are the most popular tools for scheduling one-on-one or conference conversations. Even if it means fetching a cup of tea, we advise you to make yourself as comfortable as possible during the meeting, as the procedure is same. Your kid is not obliged to attend mediation unless the parties agree that Child Inclusion Mediation is acceptable, and even then, only under certain conditions.
How might the mediation procedure unfold for an autistic client?
Mediation is never a “one size fits all” technique, and participants with autism are no exception. Throughout the mediation process, there may be a variety of family-related issues and concerns to address, particularly in regards to navigating relationships, making modifications, and scheduling. While there is no “standard strategy” to altering the mediation procedure, the basic objective is always to produce the most beneficial conversations possible by assuring or promoting contact between all parties. Remember that it is up to the participants to determine the agenda!
Following your MIAM, the mediator can provide you with a step-by-step summary of the meeting agenda in advance, depending on the specifics of your circumstance. Please contact Solent Family Mediation Surrey if we can provide you with more information such as visual aids, geographical details, or more specific directions on how to approach mediation – if this would be helpful. The sessions may look scheduled to ensure that you feel confident and supported, but the timing and procedures will be flexible to prevent putting you under strain and to allow you time to process. Individuals react differently to sensory stimuli, and despite the virtual nature of Solent Family Mediation Surrey mediation meetings at the present time, we may attempt to reduce sensory stimuli in our settings to ease anxiety produced by specific pictures, words, or other visual stimuli. We would like to underline that, as usual, the participants remain in command of the process, while the mediators are here to support you and facilitate the talks!
How can mediators from Solent Family Mediation in Surrey provide a safe and friendly atmosphere for autistic clients?
Through mediation services, our primary objective is to assist you arrive at a self-realized conclusion by helping you through the issues and alternative courses of action. To assist in achieving this goal, our mediators do their utmost to personalise the mediation process to each client’s specific requirements and concerns. For autistic clients with communication difficulties, Solent Family Mediation Surrey mediators might be requested to talk with greater precision and clarity. By requesting that your mediator maintain clarity, composure, and conciseness, you may assist keep the discussion on-topic and help them avoid distracting forms of communication like as gesture, figurative language, and digressions. Mediation is characterised by frequent back-and-forth conversation, which typically comprises a large number of questions. Mediators will make these statements as concise and detailed as possible, eliminating wide questions with many and potentially confusing replies. Everyone works at their own pace, and your mediator may guide the conversation as slowly as quickly as necessary! If you are also used to actions associated with attention deficit disorder, echolalia, or brought positive, inform your mediator of the environmental cues that can be altered to facilitate the process.
What will be expected of me by my mediator?
Communication is the most vital component of the mediation process, and it is essential to remember that it goes both ways! Try to be as receptive as possible to conversations with your ex-spouse and mediator about your case, as well as how the process has been adapted to your requirements. Provide them with feedback or recommendations on preferred speaking styles, forms of communication, discussion formats, and any further visual aids that may be required. Remember to inform them of the situation to the best of your abilities. Your mediation would never talk down to you or put you in a position that causes offence or shame, despite the fact that this may appear intimidating. By working with you, we aim to assist rather than judge – in every meaning of the term!
Can I bring a friend or family member to my mediation session?
Adult or child participants with autism may benefit from the presence of a support person during the mediation process. This is particularly important in instances involving children with autism, as a support person may assist the kid in articulating their worries, ideas, and feelings – especially when there are communication gaps. Typically, third parties are not invited to mediation sessions, although exceptions are always possible in certain situations. A support person can assist you in articulating your desires and emotions or in conveying your views to the mediator and other parties involved. However, this individual may only be present with the approval of all parties concerned.
It is recommended that your support person not be a family member or close friend. However, this does not exclude you from bringing a family member or close friend to mediation under specific conditions. All mediation participants must consent to the presence of the support person, and your mediator must believe this to be appropriate. You may bring a family member or friend to your MIAM, however combined sessions require permission.
Please reach out to your mediator in advance if you or your kid might benefit from the presence of a support person during the mediation session. This will help us guarantee that all parties present consent to the support advocate’s attendance.
What if I have unique requirements?
Our mission at Solent Family Mediation Surrey is to foster a constructive and welcoming atmosphere for all of our clients. This implies that we want our mediation process to be as individualised, autonomous, and accessible as possible. If there are portions of this essay that connect with you, please feel free to bring them up during your MIAM with your mediator. This will assist all parties in adjusting their communication structure and style, as well as making any necessary modifications, so that everyone is on an equal footing. However, if you’re reading this essay and you’re in an entirely other league, that’s just OK! This is not an exhaustive approach to making mediation accessible to clients on the spectrum; thus, feel free to call the firm’s attention to your particular requirements.
We want to underline that mediation is all about giving you with the assistance you need to make self-directed and self-realized family decisions. Our goal is to ease this process by presenting you to the most pertinent types of mediation and by establishing multidirectional communication channels. We intend to offer an inclusive atmosphere for autistic participants. At any stage in the process, Solent Family Mediation Surrey strongly encourages participants to voice their requirements to the mediator, whether they concern the manner of communication, the discussion format, the need for visual aids, or the presence of a support advocate.