AUTISM IN REAL LIFE

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  Helping Teachers to Get to 

Know Your Kid
 
At IEP time, parents do everything we can do to make sure our child’s educational needs are well documented.  If things go well, the IEP should describe your child’s strengths and weaknesses, goals and objectives, provide Specially Designed Instructions, etc.  The finished IEP represents the “blue print” for your child's free and appropriate public education.  So what happens every September? 

                         


Parents hope and pray that all the new teachers and specialists at school have read and understand the IEP.  However, we all know that some teachers and therapists may only browse through the IEP.  Even if they do take the time to read every word of a 30 page IEP, will they really understand and remember everything on a daily basis?  Some may.  Some may not. 

Even as a parent, I often have to refer back and re-read my son’s IEP to remember exactly what we wrote several months ago.  But it is easier for me because I know my son and I am with him every day.  Parents are the experts on our children.  Given this situation, what else can a parent do to help the teachers know your child?

 

You may have heard it before but writing a short email to your child’s new teacher helps them get to know your child more quickly.  What do you write about?  The note can be a short email that describes in your child in your own words.  In the email, you can quickly answer questions about your child.  What teaching method works for your child and what doesn’t?  Is your child a visual learner?  What stresses him?  What kinds of things will set off a tantrum?  Does he have sensory issues with loud noises like fire drills or singing?  What is a motivating reward for your child?  What are his strengths?  Where does he need extra help? 

 

All this information can help a teacher get through the first couple of weeks until they really get to know your child.  If you are interested in reading a sample letter, I have included my email to my son’s teacher. See below.

 

 

Sample Letter to School:

 

Dear Mrs. Doe,


I am writing to give you some information about my son Johnny.  I know you probably have read my son’s IEP, but I wanted to give you some additional information that may be helpful as he begins his year.  I also wanted to let you know that I am available at any time to talk if there are any issues.


Johnny has Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD.  He is very bright and is very much a visual learner.  He sometimes has difficulty focusing especially when there is a lot of activity (he does take medication for his ADHD).  He is pretty social yet he still has difficulty fitting in at times.  He does have a few typical peers who are great with him – (Jane, Susie, Peter).  Inclusion has been great for Johnny and every year he has made great progress at
ABC School.


At the end of last year, Johnny was going to autistic support for reading comprehension, exams/tests, pre/post teaching and sometimes writing. He stayed in the regular ed classroom for most of Math, Social Studies, Science, Spanish, PE, Art and Music.  If at anytime he had a serious issue and/or needed more support, his aide would pull him out to autistic support.


Due to his neurological disorder, Johnny has poor fine motor skills. Therefore, the aide often will write for Johnny (including his homework in his homework folder and taking his notes).  Johnny uses Word on the computer very well so he does his homework on the computer and sometimes uses it in class as well to type up his writing.  He is supposed to be able to use the computer in class to write sentences.


Johnny sight reads very well but has difficulty with comprehension. Many times he will do well with comprehension if he likes the subject matter.  Conversely, he doesn't do well when he either dislikes or is indifferent to the subject matter.


Since Johnny has excellent memorization skills, he does very well on spelling exams.  He does require study guides for exams (i.e. Social Studies) but often does quite well.  He just needs time to study in advance of a test.


Johnny’s math skills in general are very good.  He is great at multiplication and division.  However, he sometimes requires pre and post teaching down in the autistic support class for math concepts and he has great difficulty with abstract concepts/explanations. Over the summer, his addition and subtraction did get a little rusty but I will continue to practice with him at home.


I guess the only other thing that I wanted to mention is that Johnny has sensory issues and is very sensitive to sound.  He doesn't like loud noises or loud talking.  Sometimes he would have to have his reading group in the hallway because the class would get so loud. He seemed to tolerate music and lunch last year.  


Johnny can get really upset when the fire alarm goes off. The noise scares him, and he would sometimes even cry.  It can ruin his entire day and make it impossible for him to focus.  Whoever sets it off is supposed to tell autistic support so they can warn Johnny before it goes off.  


As far as Johnny's behavior, he does use a schedule that the aide keeps.
Tyler does well with structure and rules (he likes rules). The Behavior Specialist comes to ABC School and works with the school and me to address any issues.  Social stories work great with Johnny, and the BSC will make them when needed.


I do whatever I can at home to help reinforce good behavior at school.  Last April, May and June, Johnny hardly had any issues and was doing very.  The beginning of the years is usually more difficult because of all the change.  Please don't hesitate to write me if you have any questions.


Thank you for your time,


Mrs. Hunsberger



 

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