When Your Child With Autism Goes to School; Navigating the System and Building Your Team (Part 1: Preparing YOU for When Your Child Starts School)

I have had the privilege, and I mean privilege in the most sincere way possible, of working with several children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD or Autism in this post) as a special educator, a consultant and classroom teacher in my career.  I say privilege, because these children taught me so much , especially about behaviour and inclusion.

As a special educator, one of the things I learned early in my career is that sometimes, by the time they enter the school system, parents of kids with special needs have spent years fighting for what they need for their child.  They’ve been navigating a system that has not always been easy and accessible, and have not always been listened to or honoured for what they know about their own child’s needs.

Sometimes, when parents have come into the school system, they have come in “swinging”.  They have their hackles raised, ready to fight, even before the process has begun.  This is so sad, and can sometimes start things off on a difficult note.

I’m guessing that if you are reading this, you are already relating on some level.  From an educator’s point of view, I’d like to share a few ideas that will help you gain more power and influence in the school system and in the decisions that will be made regarding your child’s education.

Ok… before I go any further there are a few things I have to clear up.

  1. Please use and ask others to use respectful terminology when referring to your child.  Your child is a child with autism (ASD), not an ASD Child or an Autistic of an Autistic child.  Respectful language puts the child first and the challenge second.  We want our kiddos to be seen as kids, not “disabilities”, and this subtle use of wording can make a difference. I don’t consider this a “labeling” problem as sometimes labeling can be quite useful.  But the label should not define the child.  Politely, with a smile, ask people to use the appropriate wording.
  2. Not all systems are the same.  The policies, procedures and processes in each school district, and even within individual schools, can differ greatly! I don’t claim to know how all schools operate regarding programming for high needs kiddos.  But knowing that all schools can differ is a powerful understanding, and one that can work to your advantage as you begin your education system journey.
  3. You need to know off the start that I’m a huge advocate of inclusion.  This is not the same as “integration”. (This is material for another article)  Inclusion goes further than integration.  Inclusion isn’t a “place” the child is in, it is more of a philosophy for making decisions in a way that does not exclude the child from experiences and opportunities.  And for me the biggest of these is social experiences and opportunities.  AND you need to know right from the get-go that not all educators and certainly not all systems agree with inclusion, or implement it in the same ways, or even fully understand it. So you may have to take a gentle lead if this is what you want.

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FACEBOOK Empowered Parent Plan~ Twitter @MpoweredparNT~ Instagram mpoweredparent ~ Pinterest Roberta Luchinski

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BIO- Roberta Luchinski is the Owner/Facilitator of Empowered Parent Plan.  She helps busy parents prevent, respond to and change their kiddo’s difficult behaviours.  Roberta uses positive parenting strategies and brain based methods tried and true from her experience as a Mom, Grandma and 30 years of Educator experience. Roberta holds an MEd in Educational Psychology and has worked with diverse students as a Classroom Teacher, a Diversity Teacher, a Special Educator and a Consultant.

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My kid isn’t Attached To Me; It’s The Other Way Around

The problem is that with an autism toddler, I can’t let him do what he wants because he doesn’t understand. I don’t expect people to feel bad for us or treat us any differently. But I know it appears that my son is attached to me because I am watching his every move.

When he goes to play with others I have to watch him and make sure that he is understanding things. I have to make sure that he isn’t throwing a tantrum or isn’t making other children mad. See we don’t communicate well. If there are stairs, I have to make sure he doesn’t try to go down them without me. It is a constant battle to try to get him to understand.

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When he starts to get nervous or scared, he will take my hand and point or walk me towards whatever it is that is making him feel uncomfortable.
I imagine this is all part of parenting, but I don’t know any different. Autism or not we all have to watch our kid and be a parent. But I feel like I’m doing it while other people are looking and judging.

The other day we went to a kids gathering event. I know the people there, but it still makes me nervous. I want to make sure that my child is behaving well. Sometimes, he goes up to others and takes toys or food away from them. People will say hi, and instead of responding, he will ignore and run away. They probably think my child is rude or mean, but that isn’t even the case. I like to tell people why he does these things to help them become aware of this; especially if they are kids.

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View some of our favorite items for autistic kids.

  1. elmo tub 
  2. elmo letters
  3. cookie drop roll 
  4. potty songs 

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A Fun DIY Fall Activity

**I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

I love this time of year: Halloween, fall, oh my, it is so much fun. I love being able to spend time with my son and have some one on one time with him; better yet this time is a great time for learning. It helps us to create some great memories. When you create a craft with a kid they are constantly thinking and taking it all in, so its important to make sure to keep talking and interact with him. 

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This is a great autistic item also as well it helps develop fine motor skills as well as improve the child’s attention span, self-expression, and reducing stress. Antonio loved examining each item, the glue, the googly eyes, and even the construction paper; he couldn’t take his eyes off the craft!

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We got this awesome craft idea,Wise Ol’ Owl Craft… Perfect for Fall, from the Dollar Tree. It is super easy and fun!  It is adorable and gives a little Halloween spirit to it without it even being so traditional. This is a great craft to keep in your child’s memory book as well. Let your little one enjoy this craft and have fun with it!

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What we purchased: 

Even better than all of this is that it was a great frugal project. I love the Dollar Tree for many things such as small gifts, cards, craft projects, and birthday goodies!!

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Check out the full project here: https://blog.dollartree.com/teacher-idea-wise-ol-owl-craft/

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