Accelerating Change Through Shared Leadership
n What Are Your Major Change Initiatives?
educators-2000

 

Asperger's Syndrome
n What is Asperger's Syndrome?
n How Parents Can Work With Educators
n A Success Story


How Parents Can Work With Educators

When my son was very young, we were very fortunate to be served by a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente whose area of specialty was developmental disorders. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from him was, "Don't try to be the teacher. You just be the parent."

This advice was not easy for me to follow. As a public school teacher, I wanted to teach my son, who was eventually diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. However, teaching is a demanding profession. Working 50-60 hours a week as a teacher prevented me from having enough time or energy to be the teacher for my own child. Friends of mine, also teachers, told me, "You can't teach your own kid anyway! Your own child does not think of you as his teacher. He thinks of you as Mom!" Although I learned that there were many things I could do to help my son, I could not be his teacher.

Toby's father and I attended parent conferences, annual IEP meetings, and sometimes requested extra meetings, especially when Toby was younger and we had concerns about his school program. When Toby was in high school, and he had transitioned to regular education classes, I sometimes met with individual teachers to see how we could help him at home so that he could pass his classes.

Over the course of my son's 15 years in public school - beginning with special education preschool, and culminating with a year at a community college - I learned a lot about working within the system as a parent supporting a student with special needs.

These are a few suggestions I would share with other parents like me, who have children with disabilities:

1) When a problem comes up, contact the teacher right away. Don't wait for things to get worse.

2) If your child doesn't know how to do his homework, night after night (see #1), let the teacher know. Find out if the problem is that he is not paying attention, or that the work is just too hard for him, and needs to be adjusted. If attention is the problem, ask the teacher what s/he is doing to help your child improve his attention span.

3) Read about your child's disability. Use the library and the Internet to find out as much as you can. If your child has been tested by a school psychologist, ask the psychologist for suggestions about ways to support your child in coping with his disability.

4) Don't lose your temper when talking to the teacher or others at the school. Be patient, and ask questions in order to understand their view of the situation.

5) If the teacher and others at the school are not responsive to your concerns, find out who is the person in charge at the next level. Keep moving up the ladder of authority until you find the person who can help you.

Even though we may not be able to be the teachers for our own children, education is a joint effort between ourselves as parents, and the educators. Do everything you can to support your child, to maximize the valuable resource of public education.

 

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All articles posted by permission of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)

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