Holy Moly - can you believe the summer break is just about over?? In last week’s column, Back to School : How to prepare your teen, tips for preparing your teen on the spectrum for the new school year were discussed. In this column, some ideas on how parents can best be prepared for the new school year are covered. These tips are from both the “Back to School Guide” put together by A2Z Educational Advocates based in Pacific Palisades, and from my book “Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.”
- Perhaps it seems obvious, but contact your school if you have not been informed of your teen's schedule or the name of the teacher(s), classroom(s), bell schedule, district and master schedule for the new school year. Sometimes, these are not known till the last minute and the school administrators are dealing with many issues – budget cuts, union and staffing concerns, etc. But, by asking politely and reminding them that you need to ‘prime’ your teen about where he needs to be, who he will see, what the schedule is for the first day of school, you can reasonably hope to get an answer.
- Review your teen's IEP document to refresh your memory about what the goals are. If you have any questions as to how the IEP will be implemented, get a list going to communicate your questions to the person responsible.
- If your teen is to receive aide support as stipulated by the IEP, it would be a good idea to contact the administrator to insure that an aide has been assigned. If specific training has been specified in the IEP, ask if the aide has been trained or when the training will take place.
- If your teen receives related services at school such as occupational therapy and/ or speech therapy, make sure you are aware of when and where he is receiving the services and that it is in line with the IEP. If the services are provided outside of the school day, contact the non-public agency providing the service to ensure an appropriate time is scheduled for your teen.
- This is a good time to ensure any records regarding your son and his educational needs are in order. Filing everything (IEPs, assessments, correspondence) in one 3-ring binder in chronological order is most helpful as it provides easy access when you need to find a particular document.
- If your child is fully included, or has a new special education or resource teacher, it is helpful to provide the teacher with a one-page positive overview about your teen, and ensure that the teacher is aware of the IEP goals and objectives. Your teen may wish to write his own note to the teacher.
- Self –advocacy is a skill that should be developed in every teenager. When situations come up in regards to information that needs to be shared with the teacher and classmates, or situations arise that need to be resolved, think of ways your teen take part in that process, and bit by bit, to take more ownership of it, depending upon his/her ability level.
In my next column, some strategies to help general education teachers who have students on the spectrum included in their class will be shared.