The following post was originally featured on We Know Stuff and written by Julie Clarke.
This month is a good time to check in and see how things are going with your child and her program at school. Today's blog is quick, but you're likely already short on time, so let's get right down to it. Here are a half dozen questions to answer before the year winds to a close.
Here's your homework. Grab a notebook (or whatever you use to record notes for school meetings) and work on these six questions before your child's next IEP meeting. It shouldn't take too long, I promise.
- Where has growth occurred? Think about how your child started the school year. Did she have trouble focusing in class or standing in line? Is he remembering his homework? Are there other areas that show improvement? The key here is to look for growth — not so much whether the end goal is reached. Progress is progress, and that is a good thing! Jot down these areas now.
- What's working? Is your child using tools provided by a specialist, such as a fidget object? Is it working? Are speech lessons helping? Is the chosen mode of communication between home and school adequate? (Again, the goal, here, isn't to check this box off, but to note what to keep in the toolbox.) Write down what is working.
- What doesn't seem to be? (Remember, some things take time.) OK, so maybe there are a few things that need revisiting. That's OK! Is the fidget object more of a distraction than a help? Maybe it needs to go. Is your child coming home in a pile of tears or with a chronic case of the crankies due to stress? That is a sure sign something isn't right.
- Take time to write down any changes in behavior you have noticed, as well as behaviors that need to change, but aren't.
- Write down any therapies that don't seem to be helping.
- Take a note of any possible relationship conflicts (this could be anything from another kid in class to someone from the school).
- Has anything new popped up? Has she developed a (new) tic? Is math becoming an unexpected stumbling block? Are there any other behaviors or concerns that have occurred since school began? Take note of these. Also, it is just as important to record any changes in the home, such as divorce, illness, a move, etc. These life events do impact our kids and it is good for the school to know when such things happen as it can affect the student in the classroom.
- Can anything be discontinued? Did she start using a squishy pillow for her seat at home and school, but you find she is no longer using it? Was he using a "chewy" to keep him from gnawing on his pencils, but he's dropped the habit? Write that down.
- . . . or is the path just fine? Sometimes, things really do move along nicely. If you have plenty of answers for #1 and #2, but the rest are blank, that is perfectly fine! It's a good sign that although there is still progress to be made, your child is, indeed, on the right track!
Go over your notes and double-check that you've stuck to the facts, leaving emotion and second-guessing on the sidelines. Once you've done that, you'll have a handy dandy set of talking points to take with you to the next school meeting! In fact, clean it up a bit and you can print copies for the school. It will be a wonderful way to check and see if you are both on the same page as well as provide you with headway to move forward!
Wishing you all the best, always,
Julie Clake is the published author of Asperger's in Pink — which you can buy here — and speaks professionally about autism. She is also the creative force behind Julie Clark Art. Julie is happily married and has a beautiful daughter. She is currently working on her second novel.