Using Scorecards to Select Advisors and Caregivers

As parents of children with autism, we are dependent upon many experts to advise us what to do to help our children. The sheer amount of feedback from educators, therapists, specialists and well-meaning friends and family members is overwhelming, and it is easy to get lost inthe various opinions, suggestions, and frankly, the personal agendae being tossed at us every day. Some of it is pretty good stuff, and some of it is pure distraction.

Whom should we listen to? Whom should we trust? It’s not an easy question to answer, and referrals/references from local autism chapters and other parents can help, but are often insufficient to get to a short list of viable candidates.

One tool that my husband and I have found to be effective is a simple scorecard. Scorecards have been used in business for years, and can be built with sophisticated analytics, or organized around a few easy rules of common sense. We recommend the easy version! To create a basic scorecard, you simply take a set of characteristics that you think are most predictive of a good outcome — in this case, an effective advisor or caregiver. Each attribute is then graded individually, and then the individual components are tallied into a combined score. Those candidates who scored in the top half can be mined as valuable assets, and those in the lower half can be redirected to another subject –like the weather — or politely ignored.

scorecards

Here’s an illustration:
The most desirable qualities, or attributes, that we seek in an advisor or caregiver are education level, professional experience, parenting experience and most importantly, the fit with our son’s needs and learning style. We assign a score of one to five for each attribute based upon these criteria:
Education Level. In this case, a PhD in the relevant field would receive a score of five; a college degree in the related field would be a four; a broad-based college degree in a non-related field would be a three; and a high school diploma would receive a score of one.
Professional Experience. Here we are looking for length of relevant experience, so anyone with ten or more years in a related field would receive a score of five; soemone with 5-9 years would receive a four; and an intern would receive a score of one.
Parenting Experience. Those parents who have had experience successfully raising a child with a disability are highly valuable.  Those who have one or two neurotypical children might be able to share movie reviews and recipes with us, but may not be the best advisors. Likewise, anyone who has successfully raised more than three children through teenage years would also have a wealth of experience to tap into.  Please note the emphasis on successfully raising happy, confident, kiddos.
Fit with My Child. My son tends to learn best from very kind, very motivating teachers. Too firm, and he clams up, as in the case of his pre-school speech teacher who insisted that my son didn’t know the concept of bigger and smaller. Of course he knew it, but he was frightened by the teacher and wouldn’t answer her questions. On the other hand, if an instructor isn’t firm enough, Connor will wiggle out of a difficult situation.  His swimming instructor struck the right balance by making it appear that it was Connor’s choice to undertake the difficult task of learning to stick his head under water.

As you run your evaluations, keep in mind that these criteria do have a bit of subjectivity, and might not always be completely foolproof.  For instance, we had a young nanny just out of college with no prior experience in anything who had a wonderful gift for working with our son.  On the other hand, there might also be someone who looks highly qualified, but is in reality a bad egg. I recently heard about one superintendent of schools who had no teaching experience aside from P.E and Driver’s Ed, who routinely threw students with behavioral issues into seclusion rooms, who had an affair with a female teacher, who bullied his own children and who showed a preference for hiring his softball buddies! He managed to stay in his position for over 20 years, making his school district one of the worst in his state.

But exceptions like these aside, the scorecard will generally help you winnow out a great number of caregiver contacts into a select few.

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Have you used scorecards? What’s your experience?

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L. Mae Wilkinson
Quiet advocate, volunteer parent mentor. Semi-retired corporate marketing and management consultant.
L. Mae Wilkinson

autismisnottheboss

Quiet advocate, volunteer parent mentor. Semi-retired corporate marketing and management consultant.

0 thoughts on “Using Scorecards to Select Advisors and Caregivers

  • October 13, 2011 at 5:00 am
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    I havnt used the scorecard yet but i beliece it is apowerfull tool forselecting people. Actually iam preparing a case study about using scorecard in selection. Please can i takeyour association as a case. If yes please advise me. My email is sectoral123@gmail.com.

    Reply

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