Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to school with Autism tips:

It's that time of year again.  We've fought the madness of the school supply isle of the local store, bags are packed, new school clothes are washed...Ready for a new school year to begin. 

If you have kids with special needs there may be a few more things to do.  I have a few tips for parents that may be new to the special ed system and are looking to make their child's transition back to school as smooth as possible.

1. Make an info sheet about your child for the school staff.

I used to e-mail this list to my son's teacher, but after getting the feeling that they sped read it once then deleted it, I decided that this year I'd print one out and give one to everyone who will be working with my son.  This sheet should include the following info:
* Your phone number and e-mail
* What your child likes to do, hobbies, ect.. (this helps to identify them as individuals, not just another student)
*What your child's strengths and skills are
*What special needs your child might have and how to identify their needs ie; I list the signs of my son when he's about to go into meltdown, or is already in one.
*List the proper protocol for dealing with problem behaviors and other issues that may come up. For my son, I list all the things that will calm him when he gets upset and how I expect them to remain respectful of him, because he can't help some of these things.

2. Make a very short info sheet for substitutes:
I always get the feeling that subs are not informed of IEPs and special needs that need to be attended to in the general ed classroom. So this year I have decided to make a very brief sheet with my son's picture at the top of it stating his name and that he has autism, and a few things to be aware of .  Brief and to the point.  The list of things to be aware of should only be 5 or 6 bullet points.  Just something to give the sub a heads up that your child has special needs.

3. Put together an info packet for the new teacher:
Sometimes, I will put together a folder of info for a new teacher about autism.  There are some teachers that want to know more about autism and I will give them a folder full of useful info.  There are some that you can tell don't care and don't want to know.  How much info to share is really dependent on the teacher's attitude.  If the teacher is not very willing to learn very much of anything about your child's disability, then you are best suited to fill the folder with as little information that is pertinent, and to the point as possible. This increases the chances that they'll at least look at it.

Do you have any tips to share?