(4% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers... /101& /1,001 indicates which one of the books the quote is from.)
Focused Excerpts about SCHOOL & AUTISM -
4%/1,001 Parents of autistic children need to adopt the mentalities of both a researcher and a warrior. As both general and soldier in this fight, you must take ownership of all aspects of treatment, education, therapy, and organization as if preparing for battle.
23%/100 Get your non-verbal kids an iPad. This can be a game changer. There are several great communication apps now available, including Proloquo2go, AutisMate, and Avatalker (www.avatalkeraac.com). You can even get your local Board of Education to cover the cost of the device, including any future damage, protective covers like OtterBox.
Before the iPad came along, Alex had to rely on gestures, approximations, and PECS images to communicate his needs and wants. Alex would frequently melt down and even turn aggressive towards himself as he became exasperated with his inability to convey his requirements.
24%/100 Once your child is confirmed non-verbal or would benefit from a device, as stated in his IEP, then the BOE or Medicaid is required to cover the cost. The IEP can state that he requires a “Dynamic Display Speech Generating Device”, which an iPad with apps can function as.
25%/100 The IEP meeting includes yourself, your son’s teachers, various school representatives, and a parent representative. You can bring your own specialists and support folks to help you in any way (moral support, reminders, etc.)
92%/1,001 Don’t wait until the legal age of the school’s transition plan to start transitioning you child into increasing responsibility and independence. The kids will not willingly go along with this plan to do more, but set an expectation and reward small (very small) steps toward the accomplishment.
The adult world is unaccommodating – a fact that is hard to face for everyone, but is particularly so when our special education teams have tried to serve our kids by accommodating to their disability.
Prevent the IEP team and yourself from making decisions that always keep your child comfortable and in control of what he wants to do. …the world frequently does not offer “comfortable” options.
< My Thoughts > Individual Education Plan (IEP) thoughts…
Absolutely, the parents, guardians, and other caregivers should bring their team to the table. As a parent myself, attending my first IEP for Sonny, sitting at a huge table with strangers was intimidating, even frightening. All of these ‘professionals’ sat there like crows lined up on a fence, while I was made to feel that any minute I would be under attack. I’m exaggerating… but for first-timers… even for me as an educator… it’s pretty intense.
Because parents have an intuitive sense of what will work for their child, they should be prepared to bring support in those areas which are already working for them. If your child is doing well with certain programs carried out at home, then that provider should attend the IEP meeting. Especially if you want to have any current intervention made part of the child’s school program.
Now from a ‘teacher’s’ point of view. As one of the child’s teachers, I created the first part of the IEP to ‘paint a picture’, describing how we as a team see the child. If you as the parent disagree or don’t understand the jargon on any part of that assessment, speak up! I create the IEP document at the computer so I could be ‘friendly’ about making any changes.
When it comes to the child’s education, parents and professionals can take more of a team approach. Speaking as a special education teacher, I bring a team to the table. This team consists of the principal or surrogate, school psychologist, school nurse, various school therapists (Physical, Occupational, Speech/Language, Adaptive Physical Education teacher, and if needed… Vision specialist, social worker, and mental health personnel; vocational specialists for the older child.). Also, the school Special Education personnel, teacher, aides, facilitators; plus a general education teacher who can speak to the class requirements, accommodations, etc.
Everyone at the meeting should have a ‘draft’ of the proposed document. Back to the parent team… you can bring basically anyone you feel knows your child and will help you process what is ‘really’ happening and being said. Ask for a break; say you need more time (within reason… sleep on it…) before you sign this legal document. Ask for another meeting in 3 – 6 months, if you feel pressured into agreeing with things you’re not sure of. Keep in mind that the severity of the autism may limit what the school is willing to agree to. Ken has addressed the IEP process in both of his book… check further. Smiles
6%/1,001 …You will never forget where you were when certain National and World events took place. The day you receive the news of your child’s ‘Autism’ diagnosis is just as traumatic; the only difference is, no one else is sharing your pain… your life is changed forever. What to do first?
< My Thoughts > “…your life is changed forever.”
As a teacher, I tried to stay in the here and the now. What would help the child and the family the most? For the child to be able to communicate? For the child to stop having hella-tantrums? For the child to listen to and obey safety commands? For the child to be toilet trained…feed himself…be engaged quietly for a short time? What we most often hear is – “I could deal with all the behaviors if I could just hear him say “Mama.”
If he would just acknowledge me by looking me in the eye…If he would just hold my hand and walk with me. Sorry to say that these goals are way, way off in the distance (if they ever happen)…but we as parents want this too, so I always tell mom that we will try.
At the time of diagnosis, I don’t believe the educator or the parent truly knows what the eventual outcome or level of care necessary will be. The other reality is that new interventions are being embraced as we speak, such as assistive technology and augmentative communication, which may provide the missing link for your child to find a more productive life.
As an educator, I also know that many of my colleagues are continually attending workshops, interactive seminars, college classes, and meeting yearly professional development requirements. But, then there are those others who stand by their original understanding of what it takes to educate and support a child on the spectrum. In fact, the idea of a ‘spectrum’ may not have existed when they formed their steadfast opinions about autism. I went back to get a Master’s in Special Education for that reason.
This is where you become both researcher and warrior. Find out about those people who are inserting themselves into your child’s life. It is costly to change programs, change schools, or even move to another state.
14%/1,001 Consider your options. Do your research. Consider moving to another state. Some states spend a greater percentage of their budgets on social services and thus have more services available. You need all the help you can get; seek out states considered to be “autism friendly.” Easter Seals has compiled a list of state profiles. Look for states with bigger budgets for social services, and for a higher percentage of autism programs.
8%/100 In some cases, one or both parents may need to change or adjust their career plans to accommodate the care of a special needs child. As a single parent, the challenge can be daunting. Many parents have remade themselves successfully and found a greater satisfaction in building their own business. These are not really tips, but have benefits as well.
End of Focused Excerpts about SCHOOL & AUTISM -