For most parents, the anticipation of back to school begins when the summer dismissal bell rings at the end of the year. For parents of children with special needs, summertime is the time to regroup and just the thought of the next school year brings anxiety and stress to what should be a less stressful time of year.
I love the summer because I get to concentrate on other things. I hate summer because it seems to get shorter every year and I dread the beginning of school. The Autism Society of Alabama (ASA) blog has some tips to help with the transition from the end of the last year of school and the relaxed summer to the beginning of the next year with its many changes and challenges. First, let the ASA help you prepare and execute your child’s IEP. Let them show you how to ease your child back into the structure of a classroom and getting to know their new teachers and classmates. They can also communicate your child’s rights in the school system and help you communicate with educators and others who will be in contact with your child.
It’s time to make back-to-school resolutions for your child. Be proactive instead of reactive. Attend parent/teacher meetings and PTA meetings. Meet the teachers, principals and other faculty and staff that will be in contact with your child. Take the time to really get to know the Special Needs coordinators/teachers. Prepare a goody package for them at the beginning of the year. Make them feel special and you will start the year off on a good note. We get so focused on our own children that we tend to forget that they are responsible for many more.
Stand up for your child. It is important for you, as a parent, to know what your rights are and that it is not carried too far or not far enough. At the same time, give the school system the benefit of the doubt. Take into account the many challenges faced by the school systems today particularly in light of the economy. This is no excuse for them to slack off, but at the same time, parents should not make unreasonable demands. Find out what you can do to help or how you can make their work easier. The more involved you are in your child’s education, the more attention the teachers will give to your child.
Take time to listen to teachers, the staff and your child. Read the paperwork they send home. Make a point to let them know you are paying attention to the small details as well as the bigger ones. Take control of an issue before it gets out of hand. If you are concerned about something, let the school system know. Chances are the issue can be resolved early on without any negative consequences.
Most importantly, don’t give up. Hang in there. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Your hard work, diligence and patience will someday pay off.
The Autism Society of Alabama works to improve services for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families through education and advocacy by providing state level advocacy and representation, information and referral services, support groups, conferences and seminars, family camps and awareness. It is located at 4217 Dolly Ridge Road in Birmingham and can be reached at 877-428-8476. Visit the ASA website to find the most current news and events. Click here to become a member of the Autism Society of Alabama.