Children with autism face challenges when they enroll in school. For most parents, the first challenges they think of are things like bullying, loneliness, and feelings of isolation. Though those are certainly common experiences for some children on the spectrum, many others deal with challenges from school administrators and teachers. As a parent, it’s up to you to advocate for your child and give your child’s education team the autism information they need to understand your child’s unique personality. Here’s how to advocate for your child’s best interests throughout their academic career.
Understand Your Child’s Needs First
If you’re not sure what works for your child, what triggers them, and how to communicate directions to them, you’re not going to be able to communicate those things to their educators. Think about what your child needs and start making a list. Are there certain sounds that almost always trigger a meltdown? Do they have a specific coping mechanism that calms them down quickly? The more information you can convey to the school, the better equipped they’ll be to teach your child.
Make It Real
It’s easy for administrators and staff to get caught up in the abstract notion of having a child with autism in the classroom. Instead of letting them think of your child as an idea, make it real. Bring a picture of your child to any meetings you might have before they start school. Remind them that your child’s best interests are the most important issue at hand, even if that means the educators might have to do things differently. The most important bit of autism information you can give them is to remind them that your child is an individual and that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t always work.
Stay In the Loop
Your child has rights in the education system, just like any other child. You need to be ready to get involved to make sure those rights are upheld. Touch base with educators throughout the year and pay attention to what your child tells you at the end of the day.
Fight for Your Child
Ultimately, your child’s well-being and the quality of their education depends on your ability to fight for their rights. The best place to start is by communicating with your child’s education team and make sure they understand your child’s unique personality. Once they see them as an individual, they’ll be ready to listen and should be more receptive to the autism information you provide.
Work with a Professional
For more information, please contact our office to speak to a professional who can assist you.