Although parent-teacher collaboration is important for every student, it’s particularly important to work closely with the teacher when your child has autism or other developmental delays. Schedule a meeting early in the school year to explain what autism means for your child and how his or her teacher can be most effective in the classroom. If your child is currently working with a behavior therapist, you may wish to ask the therapist about the most important issues to discuss with the teacher.
Go to the Conference Prepared
Before meeting with the teacher, talk to your child about school. Ask him or her if there have been any issues in the classroom, or with his or her classmates. Then, make a list of your questions and your child’s concerns. Prioritize the list; it’s likely that the teacher won’t have time to discuss every issue at the first conference.
Inform the Teacher of the Issues
Although many teachers these days do have experience working with children with autism , it is important to discuss your child’s specific, individual needs as autism symptoms vary widely. Talk to the teacher about your child’s challenges and how they can be addressed effectively. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), your teacher should already be familiar with any necessary classroom modifications. However, IEPs can be quite long; some parents like to staple a “cheat sheet” on top that informs the teacher of the major issues.
Maintain Positivity and Be Proactive
Most teachers chose their profession because they want to make a difference in children’s lives. Strive for a partnership with your child’s teacher; avoid making negative comments and instead offer proactive solutions in a positive tone of voice.
Arrange for Ongoing Communication
Before leaving the conference, agree upon a method of ongoing communication. Make sure the teacher has your contact information. Agree upon a frequency of communication and discuss which details would be most helpful. For example, you might ask for details about your child’s behavior.
For almost 20 years, The Behavior Exchange has been helping Dallas-area families cope with the symptoms of autism through the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Our behavior therapists believe that every child deserves the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. For more information about our behavior classes, call (972) 312-8733.