Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
With school set to start in the coming weeks it is time to start preparing for this transition for the child on the Autism Spectrum. The communication system between the family and school all depends on what was written into the Individual Education Plan (IEP).
For my younger son Matthew it is stated in his Behavior Support Plan under communication provisions for contact between teacher and parent to be daily through reports, written notes and behavioral logs. Within the actual IEP the communication log is to be of what happened at school and can be done through a picture system. The AAC Accessor at the IEP mentioned this system would keep Matthew involved in his daily activities. He could take part in putting the picture system together at the end of each day.
In a letter a few months ago where I requested an Adaptive PE assessment I also indicated I wanted to implement a notebook for communicating between the teacher, aide and therapists. This would only require a sentence indicating the therapist was there that day and had a session with my child. Anything out of the ordinary could be noted in a minute. This would be helpful for parents to know if their child was irritable at school, had a screaming fit for some reason or was happy as can be. I do not want the communication between school and home to focus only on negative behavior. It is a pleasure to hear great feedback relating to our child on the Autism Spectrum.
A few months ago while in the hallway with his aide Matthew saw his speech therapist. It was not their scheduled day, but happened to be about the same time period he would normally see her on their designated day. He went over to her and held her arm to be taken to the room. The Speech Therapist was so happy to have Matthew acknowledge her and initiate contact that she allowed him to lead her to her room, which was upstairs and down a hallway.
She let him into the room even though a few other students were due for a therapy session. She did not want this moment to go without rewarding my son. She kept him in the room for a few minutes until the group arrived for their scheduled time. This Speech Therapist was in tune to my son and spent time making contact with him instead of preparing for her next appointment.
When she had a break she took the time to call me and relay this encounter with me. She also mentioned this to the Assistant Principal and Psychologist, as well as it being a topic of discussion at the IEP meeting.
It is wonderful to find therapists, teachers and aides who have a connection or bond with our children. Not every match is a fit, which we find out too often. As parents we can initiate communication with a teacher or aide by giving them a thoughtful card, gift or token of appreciation at various times of the year. I always hand out autism awareness items in the month of April and try to relay media information that pertains to a television show or magazine that discusses autism.
Please also make sure that the school is aware of any special dietary issues and prepare a list of acceptable foods to the teacher for parties in the classroom. Neither of my children have ever tried soda in the home or out at fast food establishments. Milk is acceptable for Nicholas or orange juice. I bring gatorade to the class for birthday celebrations. A few years ago Nicholas tried orange soda from a parent who brought it into the classroom for a party. Nicholas and Matthew bring their lunches on a daily basis to school and summer camp. GFCF School Lunch ideas.
Greenhouse Publications has Visual Schedules for the classroom that might be useful for teachers this coming school year.
If you are preparing for an IEP, this site has excellent Self help goals.
Make sure you know the teacher's qualifications - No Child Left Behind.
You might want to consider bringing a book to the classroom the first week of school and either setting up a time to read it over with classmates of the child on the Autism Spectrum - perhaps do this when your child or the student is attending a therapy. Another option if that is not doable would be to write an introduction letter to the new teacher with some examples on behavior your child may experience the beginning of this school term. This sample is for a child with adhd, sensory integration disorder, bipolar disorder and Asperger's syndrome.
This is a pdf file that is a guide to Letter Writing
A sample sensory diet
This document contains photos to help with toilet training with the TEACCH method.
This Site is specifically for children on the autism spectrum.
I saved this article from the Dyslexia site that helps children and parents get ready for school.
A worthwhile book to obtain for both the aide and parent is How To be A Para Pro: A Comprehensive Training Manual for Paraprofessionals is available at Amazon. I picked up mine last year and loaned it to another aide who had expressed an interest in becoming my son's assistant. This book offered great insight to me as a parent with many case examples.
If your child has any type of behavior issues the book to purchase and peruse now to be prepared for the school year and for implementing a behavior support plan is A Treasure Chest of Behavioral Strategies for Individuals With Autism.
I could kick myself for waiting so many years before finding out about these two exceptional books. They are worth purchasing and sharing with those who work with our children on the Autism Spectrum.
Test your knowledge with the Autism Quiz
Promoting Autism Awareness
Toys to consider for Christmas
The Pros and Cons of Assessments