In this article I want to give some basic and easy to follow tips to help parents when their child is starting at school. As with so much in life preparation is the key and so you want to be taking action long before the first bell on the first day. Before the school year starts, you should take your child to the school for a trial run. Just so he or she can meet their teacher and learn what their day may look like.
This is also an excellent opportunity for you to "scout" around the school and look for potential challenges and positives. Pay attention to things like physical room sizes, the number of pupils per class, color and light issues around the school. You know best your child's issues and mannerisms so bear them in mind when you walk around the school.
But don't overwhelm yourself trying to look out for EVERYTHING on the first visit. Just think about 1 or 2 particularly important issues for your child and keep an eye out for things related to them (e.g. if your child hates crowds look at the classroom and break time set-up if you can). If you aren't sure then ask your child before you go "what are the 2 most annoying things about school? or "is there anything you are afraid about the new school?" When you visit it is a good time for you to introduce yourself to the teacher and let them know that you are there to help; providing just a basic overview of your child and what works best for them, as far as you know.
Recognize that the teacher will have a number of children to deal with and that they want to help your child, but they may need to do things differently than you have at home. Let the teacher know that you are willing to support your child with homework assignments or any other projects that may come up. Be an advocate for your child but don't overwhelm the school or make demands on them that make it impossible for them to care for other children as well. Also try to set up a practical means of communication with the teacher for when your child starts.
For younger children this can be a "communication book" going back and forth between home and school. For older children it may mean swapping email addresses or mobile phone numbers with the various teachers that your child may be taught by. In my experience email is the best way as it's instant and does not rely on people remembering to pass phone messages to teachers ? or teachers remembering to read and act on those messages! Simple and effective communication systems are essential particularly at High School age. If you don't do this you can spend days trying to get hold of the teacher by leaving phone messages at the school. In the mean time behaviors may have got worse and also it becomes more difficult to understand and resolve problems the longer they are left for. If your child is to be mainstreamed, they are likely going to need an aid with them throughout most of their mainstreamed classes.
This person will be there to help them with difficult work and also monitor your child for overload; allowing them the opportunity to remove your child from the classroom prior to them displaying inappropriate behavior. Inappropriate behavior in the classroom is only going to make them a target for other children and it will serve them well to avoid that possibility. So to summarize this article you should arrange to visit the school in plenty of time before the school year starts. When you visit remember to look for potential issues for your child and communicate with the teacher your willingness to work with them (and exchange contact details).
Dave Angel is a social worker with families who have children on the Autistic Spectrum and is the author of a new e-book that answers the 46 most asked questions by parents of children with Asperger's. To claim your free 7 day Mini-Course for parents of children with Asperger's Syndrome visit http://www.parentingaspergers.com today.