Parents With Autistic Children Blogs Write About How to Navigate the School Experiences

“If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, “I will be bigger that you.  You cannot defeat me.” Then repeat to your­self the most comforting of all words, “This too shall pass.” Maintaining self-respect in the face of a devastating experience is of prime importance.”      Ann Landers

1.  What We Need-“So far, so good”:

The new school, that is. We like. It seems we have found a place, and a teacher, who fit C. He’s had great teachers all along, and they’ve all adored him (and he them), but this one goes above and beyond special. I don’t know what it is, exactly – but she seems to have found a way to encourage C’s quirkiness while at the same time pushing his boundaries. From appreciating his “stream of facts” book report to offering him the chance to count the money at the school economics fair, this teacher has got him pegged.

The class size alone (18 as opposed to 33 in his old school) makes much of what is in C’s IEP almost unnecessary, as his teacher is more able to address some of the issues he faces in the classroom. Her gentle approach to reading and her willingness to forge him ahead in math make him feel both relaxed and challenged at the same time.

At least that’s what I think he feels. Perhaps I’m projecting, but the seeming absolute lack of stress about school are my clues.

No more stomachaches, no more clinging to my leg in the morning, no more fear about walking into the building. There are still challenges: C still isn’t really bonding with anyone and has managed to find one kid who seems to go out of his way to bother him (that post is coming up). After all, autism still lives here. But C is safe, he is nurtured, and he is appreciated, and with those things, much is possible.

2.  Our Journey Thru Autism: “Dear Haley Reports…Sensory Classroom Tips and Communication With Teachers”:

“Hi everybody! Hope the beginning of school has been good to you and your children are adjusting well. As always, if you have ANY questions I can maybe answer, please feel free to write me! This month we are talking about teachers and autism as well as sensory challenges at school.”

“Did your mom have to talk to teachers to discuss your autism?
Looking back, I remember my mom always making meetings to talk to teachers as far back as about first grade. I never knew what these meetings were about (until I was 9 and I still didn’t get to join the meetings), but now at 16, I know those meetings were about me and my autism. My mom would go in before the year began and introduce herself to the teacher, and tell him or her about my strengths and weaknesses. One thing my mom did was to make sure that the teacher and the school understood that we needed to be “partners” in my education and socialization. During these meetings, my mom would supply the teachers with books/articles on autism so that the teachers would have some expectations. Also, my mom had a list of suggestions that would help such as I needed to sit in the front row, to sit me next to a new girl and try to engage me socially. My mom also volunteered at school a lot too. I remember her being the Room Parent for a few years and volunteering to chaperone trips.”

“What are some classroom tips to deal with sensory issues or other classroom challenges?
Some classroom tips I have are:
1) Sit in the front row if you can. This helps so you can see the board better and it is less distracting. You don’t have to look around the room and at everyone else in front of you.
2) In elementary school, it is also helpful if the teacher keeps the daily schedule on the board. This way you will know what to expect.
3) If the teacher would let your child know about fire drills in advance because the alarms are loud and very sudden. This could scare your child or be overload if there are sensory issues related to loud noises.
4) If the loud noises in the lunchroom are a problem, you can probably arrange with the school or a teacher for your child to eat somewhere quieter like the office or a supervised classroom.”

“There are more sensory tips and overall school-related in my book, Middle School: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About. Middle School covers everything ranging from slang words to how to use a locker and how to handle fire drills and is available for sale on Amazon, and my website, haleymossart.com.”

“Have a great September and keep your questions coming!”

3. Squidalicious: “What 7th, 4th,& 1st Graders Look Like”

“Here’s what our trio looked like when they hit the first day of school two weeks ago. Can you believe we have such tall children in this house? Iz’s head fits right under my chin, Leelo can put his head on my shoulder when he sits next to me, and Mali — she is enjoying the last days of being hip-hoistable. Sob.”

“Iz: 7th grade. Middle school for real. Tough caring teachers with x-ray vision when it comes to excuses. I hope she will thrive rather than crumple. I may be needing to unearth some of my crusty former cheerleading skills on her behalf. She is surprisingly nonchalant about our never really having time to go back-to-school shopping, and wearing last year’s clothes and shoes on her first day back. In her stead I would have Lost. My. Shit. Completely. Good for her.”

“Leelo: 4th grade, in The World’s Greatest Autism School. So far, everything is peachy. We will need to meet with his teachers to fine tune some matters of visual supports, etc., but Leo comes home from school happy every day. He also is harness-free for the first time in his short bus commuting career (though he now rides in a van). Even cooler — guess who commutes with him? Jennyalice’s Jake. Planets aligning. It is too cool. Jen says Leelo giggles every morning when he arrives at their house to pick up Jake, and sees a bunch of his favorite people waiting. His 1-month new school IEP is coming on the 22nd, and Seymour and I have a lot of prepping to do to make it a productive, team-building, Leo’s best interests event. Onus on us. Heh.”

“Mali: 1st grade, with Iz’s stern but fair and loving Galician teacher from 2nd grade. Who is not letting our beloved little monster getting away with a damn thing — thank GOD. Though this did mean Mali spent her first two weeks complaining about hating school. She even tried out a good cry about not wanting to go to school, one morning (she got sent in anyhow). Now Mali says she likes class, even though it is really hard to sit at tables and do all that work and not play so much. Sigh.”

“I’m glad they’re back in school. They’re glad they’re back in school. But wow, what a summer. Can’t believe it’s already over — and even though it almost killed me, I miss it already.”

Photo credit.

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