Tips for Parents of Special Need Children

Tips for Parents of Special Need Children

This August, many children with Special Needs will be walking down the hall for the first time. For parents of these children, this can be overwhelming as well as exciting. Here are three steps to help parents of Special Need Children prepare for the first day of school.

School  Visit

school hallway

It can be overwhelming starting a new school. If you are the parent of a child with special needs, this can cause anxiety not only for you but the child as well.  Scheduling a visit at the school is an excellent idea. By planning a visit during the summer helps the child to see the school when it is less crowded. It is important for the child to walk down the hallways and class room to get a familiarity of the place.  This tour should include the cafeteria, the library, principal’s office, the nurse’s office as well as the classroom where the student will be if that is available at the time. If the child is switching classes, this schedule should be followed in order as this will be the child routine. Also, knowing where the closest bathroom is also essential.

Picture Schedules
If your child is a visual learner, creating a picture schedule may work.  If possible, two weeks before school starts, go to the school and take pictures of the school, school buses,  and facility. Arrange the pictures in subsequent events. This picture schedule will help the child with an understanding of their schedule in pictures.  This picture schedule can be used while in school.  For example, when to change classes, or when they should go to the bathroom.  The picture should prompt the question “After we do this,then we do this. ”

Supportive Staff.
No one knows children better than their parents. It is important the first week of school to get to know the teachers and supports who will be teaching your child. If your child has an Individual  Education Plan ( IEP) or 504 plan, ensure all parties have a copy of this so they can plan how to serve your child best.  The lines of communication for both sides should be open.  If your child has an aide in the class or a paraprofessional get to know them as well. If your child will need additional resources such as Speech, Occupational Therapy and or Behavioral Services, Speak up. Advocating for your children’s needs is essential to a successful school year.

Be involved

father and daughter doing homework

Parent Teacher Association ( PTA), the school bake sales, Booster Club, whatever activity there is which requires a parent interaction and participation, if you can be active in it, then do it. It shows you support your child’s education. This behavior indicates that this parent is active in their child’s life as well as education.  These activities can be used as social interaction with other parent’s whose child may have similar diagnose, as well as be a resource for additional information which parent who does not participate may not be aware.  Parents who are involved in their child’s education may also get more support. As the slogan goes, ” Membership does have its benefits.”

As a Social Worker who works with the Autistic Community, I often courage parents as well as teachers to encourage their children to be active in school. In school inclusion is imperative to all children and help build self – esteem, friendships and as well as confidence.

As the school year starts, it’s wise to have a plan when it comes to children and education,  If you follow these three steps, your child will be off to a good start. Here is to making this school year the best year.

 

Can Early Intervention help your child?

Can Early Intervention help your child?

Times have changed since I was a young child. I remember being dropped off at grandmother’s house and sitting and watching Black and White movies of The Three Stooges on a floor model television in the living room. I remember watching the Price is Right and clapping my hands because I saw the audience do this on TV. Now we have which help children with eye- hand coordination, Leap Frog which helps children read .

As a Social Worker, I am always concerned with the growth and development of my children. I often, compare my kids’ growth to the milestone chart given by the pediatrician to see if my client is developing according to the benchmarks. The questions are, what happens if children are below where they need to be and are there anything parents can do to help? What is Early Intervention? How does it help families? And what happens if a child has a diagnosis as being developmentally delayed at a young age?

kid reading

Early Intervention is an organization which helps children who may have developmental delays. Early Intervention helps infants and toddlers get intervention and services they need to learn within their first three years of life. These skills include cognitive, physical, communication, and self- help. According to Early Intervention Services, they will tailor services to meet the child’s needs which might include the use of technology, Medical Services, Nutrition Services, Occupational and Physical Therapy Services. Early Intervention also helps parents understand the needs of the child as it is not easy raising a child with special needs parents are offered support to help with this challenging concept.

 

Early Intervention Services are generally at the request of parents, and sometimes a referral is made by a Developmental Pediatrician. The assessment service is free of charge. The Family Service Coordinator will explain the processes and ask the parent/ guardian for permission to assess the child. According to Parent Center Hub, “The evaluation group will be made up of qualified people who have different areas of training and experience. Together, they know about children’s speech and language skills, physical abilities, hearing and vision, and other critical areas of development. They know how to work with the kids, even very young ones, to discover if a child has a problem or is developing within normal ranges. Group members may evaluate your child together or individually. As part of the evaluation, the team will observe your child, ask your child to do things, talk to you and your child, and use other methods to gather information. These procedures will help the team find out how your child functions in the five areas of development. ”

When the child has a diagnosis by the child’s pediatrician, or a certified Infant and Toddler Developmental Specialist, the parents should do their research about the child’s’ diagnosis. Getting as much information about the diagnosis which includes how this diagnosis will affect their child future and what other milestones they should be aware of for the child.
Assistive Technology is helpful. There many Smartphone applications as well as any items on the I pad application which help with the education of the child with delays. There is also adaptive equipment from agencies such as Fun and Functional and Zyrobotics which used technology to create switches to turn on computers or sensory items for kids who need sensory stimulation. Technology has come up with ways where a child can use eye gazing to answer the question a computer app has asked them.

It is important for parents to know they are not alone. There are communities which help families understand the child’s diagnosis. There support groups at local and community hospitals, as well meet- up support groups for the parent of children with special needs. It is also helpful for parents to know what is being discussed from the local, state and nationally regarding their child’s diagnosis. Parents and caregivers may also benefit from joining different national associations. Children often benefit from going to support groups with their peers. Parent Support groups become impromptu play dates where children can be with similar children who look and act similar to them. National Associations such as Autism Speaks, National Society of Down Syndrome and much more have resources available on their websites which include information sheets, up to date facts and what is happening on the local and national level.
All in all, Children who are given a diagnosis with a developmental delay can receive early intervention services. The referral process in simple and can lead to other doors such as support groups for parents and caregivers in the local community as well as the national level. Support groups help parents communicate with their peers to express any concerns about being a parent of a special need child.

Back to school

As the new school year approaches, I am reminded of a saying my mother used to say; “You ain’t  got to leave, but you ain’t staying here.”  Now, I know some parents are  relieved their little ankle biters will have some meaningful daily activity, but for some parents, there is an uneasiness which festers.

For some parents, especially those who have children with special needs, this can be a very anxiety- filled time. Wondering if  the school will meet all of their child’s needs.Will their child be safe?  How will their child learn? How will these learning objectives be measured?  These are all very good questions.

Children who have special needs often have a difficulty adjusting to the new change, especially children with autism and anxiety challenges.  Changes in routine can lead to maladaptive behaviors such as non- compliance, and tantrums. I have some tips which may make going back to school easy as

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  1. Attend  an Open House  When the school  has scheduled a open house, go to it and take the prospective student too. This helps parents meet the teacher(s)  who will  be  teaching their children. He/ She can see where their classroom will be located and get acclimated to the environment.
  2. Create a  Social Story. Social Stories are a good visual and written description of  the events that will happen. This will help him / her know what t will happen the day before and for the rest of the week depending on the child’s need. This is also helpful to include a schedule. Be consistent with this.
  3. Communication. I cannot stress this enough.  Communicate, Communicate COMMUNICATE. It makes a world of difference. Teachers and parents play an intricate role in the child’s life. Deciding how the  two parties will communicate is also a huge part. Whether this will be  communication will  via E-mail / telephone .It also needs to be decided  if this will be on a daily or weekly basis. Or whether they communicate via the child(ren) academic planner where both parties need to initial it  each day. Whatever system will be used needs to be consistent.

Here is to a productive academic year.

teacher