School has just started for many students and the first few weeks of school are full of excitement, preparation, and a lot of “firsts”. With these new things can come some nervousness and fear of the unknown. Children with special needs can be especially unsettled during this time as they are settling into their new schedules, teachers, and schools, but there are ways of helping them ease into the new school year.
How to Ease Back to School Jitters
If your child is having a hard time being away from you during the day, try to stay connected with a little creativity:
- Get a locket or a wallet with pictures. If your child feels anxious during the day, your child can look at the pictures to feel more connected to you.
- Send a note everyday with your child in their lunchbox. This way, they know you are thinking of them. If your child isn’t a reader, you can draw a picture to show your care for them.
Develop and Maintain Daily Routines and Schedules
- As much as possible, maintain a structured, orderly, predictable environment at home by having regularly scheduled times for meals, bedtime, wake up, study hour, etc. This structured predictability will be comforting for the child.
- Whiteboards and post-its are great for reminders instead of nagging
- Maintain a monthly wall calendar for weekly activities, appointments and events – visual reminders are great!
- Set aside a specific time and place for your child’s nightly homework assignments
Review Your Current IEP
The IEP is the cornerstone of your child’s educational program, so it’s important that you have a clear understanding of it. Note when the IEP expires and if your child is up for reevaluation this year. Most importantly, be sure that this IEP still “fits” your child’s needs! If you’re unsure, contact the school about holding an IEP review meeting.
If you are unsure about your part in the IEP process or how the evaluation process works, you can read our past newsletter article about Advocating For Your Child in the IEP Process.
Keep open communication:
- Make sure you are talking daily with your child, ask open-ended questions, and talk about your child’s feelings. Make sure they feel heard, understood, and involved.
- Keeping Track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences is important. Create a “communication log” for yourself in a notebook that is easily accessible. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have.
- It’s important that communicate early and often! If there is anything (concerns, changes, questions about the IEP) that you feel is important to share with the staff working with your child before school starts, or during the year, don’t hesitate to contact them! The more proactive and honest you are, the better the school staff will be able to meet your child’s needs.
In the world of special education, there are lots of meetings, paperwork, and documentation to keep track of. Try to keep a family calendar of school events, special education meetings, conferences, etc. Setting up a binder or folder to keep your child’s special education documentation, meeting notices, and IEPs in sequential order can also help you stay organized.
Attend School Events
Take advantage of Open House, Back-to-School Night, and parent-teacher conferences to help you and your child get a feel for the school and meet the teachers, other staff, students, and families. Share the positives about working with your child, and let the teacher know about changes, events, or IEP concerns that should be considered for children in special education.
It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – we’d love for you to connect with us!
Local Events & Resources
Sensory Friendly Hours at the Tech
Sunday, August 20, 2017: 9:30 am to 12:00 pm
The Tech Museum of Innovation
201 South Market Street. 95113 San Jose , CA
Sensory Friendly Hours are a time for families to enjoy a quieter, less-crowded visit to The Tech at a discounted rate. This opportunity may be appealing to parents of children who have mobility challenges, struggle to communicate, or become easily overwhelmed by stimuli
AMC Sensory-Friendly Films: The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
Saturday, August 26, 2017
See Link For Participating Theaters
AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month.
Our Technology Spotlight this month is pretty important because with the start of school, rewards work! And what better to help keep track of rewards than an app that you can take with you.
iRewardChart is an app that brings the traditional reward chart onto mobile device, with a customizable, interactive interface.
iRewardChart looks to help parents keep track of their child’s good behavior, and reward them appropriately. An app that is all about reward has been rewarded by the media, press, and most importantly, our users.
There are two versions of the app, Pro and Lite. The Lite app is free, and has a limitation of one kid and 4 tasks per week.
Currently the app is available on iPhone/iPad, Android (Google Marketplace, Amazon AppStore, and Nook appstore), Windows Phone 7 AppHub stores. In future, we have plans to expand onto other mobile devices, web, desktop, TV and beyond.
Certain assistive technology (AT) tools can help people who have difficulty processing and remembering spoken language. These devices can be used in many settings, and can be especially helpful in school as well!
You can find more information about the iRewardChart in the App Store or on their website here.
Ask A is for Apple
Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!