[TOPIC] How to best help advocate for Autism in the classroom?

Discussion in 'Schooling & Learning' started by autismatic, Dec 13, 2015.

  1. My son has high functioning Autism. He is 9 years old and in the third grade. He is very verbal and actually loves school. He enjoys reading and science most.

    Most of the challenges he has are with friendships. He doesn’t really have any friends and he’s socially awkward. He focuses on what people look like and he will ramble off about different stories of frogs because he loves them.

    He struggles when others try to make friends with him too. He doesn’t know how to respond it seems. But, otherwise he functions fairly well.

    He is able to function most of his day in a regular classroom because he goes to a charter school that will work with him. Then he also gets additional help outside the classroom.

    The teacher has been calling me more often about his behaviors lately. I thought they were supposed to be handling this at school though.

    Maybe I haven’t been helping enough though. I know I should probably be doing more. What are the best things to do to help there? Or, what are some ways I can help from our side for him to be more successful in the classroom?
  2. School can be a challenging place for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It can also be difficult for the teachers and parents as well as the child. You can check out our resource on handling difficult behavior in school.

    It is difficult for parents especially to know how to help their child in the classroom, especially given the challenge that they are not in the classroom.

    They also can feel as if people in the school do not understand what their child is experiencing or helping him/her in the best way. The truth is that some teachers and school staff believe they are not in fact equipped enough to deal with Autism in the classroom. It takes a lot of hard work and individualized attention.

    There are some ways you can be an advocate for your child that I have seen to be effective. There are also some tips to help children with Autism thrive in the classroom. Here are a few tips:

    • Start early to help your child get ready for school
    • Help the child learn from the behavior of their classmates
    • Work together as a team with the school- the family and the school staff. And, as a parent:
      • Practice through repetition. This can be done in the classroom and through helping at home.
      • Give teachers and coaches easy instructions. Help them to provide your child with simple instructions after saying their name and then repeating it.
      • Get involved with the school to keep an easy eye on what’s happening and get to know the staff to work better together with them.
      • Share what you know about Autism with the staff. You can even provide them with materials like this Autism Awareness PDF.

    This is far from an exhaustive list, but hopefully it can give you some ideas to get started in helping your son succeed in school.
  3. #4 ChefDave, Apr 4, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
    I'm a teacher with dual certification ... elementary (17 years experience) and secondary (Culinary Arts, 10 years experience). I hold a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I am also autistic.

    It's not my intention to be hurtful, but I don't know any other way to say this. Your responsibilities as a parent are not temporarily suspended when your child is at school. Teachers are professionally, morally, and in some states, legally obligated to share their concerns with you regarding your child's academics and behavior. If nothing else, teachers have liability issues to consider. During the 27 years I've taught, I've known parents to go absolutely bonkers in the front office because they were just informed by the building administration that that their child had been suspended following weeks of escalating misbehavior. The common mantra that's often screamed by these parents is, "WHY WASN'T I INFORMED?"

    Not only are you the legal guardian of your child but as the parent, you also know your child far better than any teacher. The best way to deal with repeated phone calls regarding your child's behavior is to make an appointment and to sit down with the teacher in question. Listen to his or her concerns. Share your thoughts about what may or may not work with your child. Talk through the problem and work with the teacher to come up with a possible working solution.

    You are at a proverbial crossroad. You may either work to foster a good working relationship with your child's teacher or you can be one of those stick in the mud parents who say, "Well you're the teacher. Deal with the problem."

    While most teachers are dedicated and hardworking professionals, many teachers especially those in special education, are often overburdened with too many students. You are the best advocate for your child but quite frankly, if you're not willing to step up to the plate as a parent and to work with the teacher to resolve these behavioral issues, don't be surprised if at some point the teacher "gives up" and metaphorically relegates your child to the back of the class while spending more time with those students who don't have behavioral issues.

    I teach Culinary Arts and as a Career and Technical Education teacher, I've had quite a few special education students come through my program. Last year I had a student who had behavioral issues. He was argumentative, insubordinate, and in the kitchen he repeatedly violated food safety and sanitation practices. Repeated calls to the parent didn't help. Talking to the kid one on one didn't help. When I called the parent, the parent became very angry and defensive and accused me of picking on his son. Since the parent wouldn't work with me, I began sending the kid to the office on discipline referrals and in time the office pulled him from my class and put him in detention for the rest of the school year. The parent subsequently accused me of having conspired to get rid of his child but honestly, what choice did I have?

    What choices are you giving your child's teacher?

    P.S. The child in question who was put in detention for the rest of the school year didn't actually make it to the end of the school year. After exposing himself in public while on school grounds, he was expelled.

    The parent subsequently told me that he had "advocated" for his child because the boy had been adopted and had been physically and emotionally abused by his biological mother ... but advocating for your child doesn't mean that you should turn a blind eye to behavioral problems. These problems started out small but escalated throughout the year particularly after the student in question realized that there would be no consequences at home. I think these problems were preventable but without parental support, there was a limit to what any teacher could do.