Getting Your Child with ASD Ready for the New School Year
Three weeks before:
- Look at a calendar with your child. Mark the first day of school.
- Take your child to buy supplies.
Two weeks before:
- Make or read a social story about going back to school.
- Arrange a play date with a school friend or classmate.
- Make visits to the school playground.
One week before:
- Schedule an appointment to meet your child’s teacher at school.
- Make visits to the school playground.
- Adjust your child’s sleep schedule so it’s in sync with a healthy school sleep schedule.
One or two days before:
- Visit your child’s classroom(s), including specialty rooms (art, gym, music), if you can.
- Meet the teacher.
- Share an index card of helpful hints about your child with the teacher. You may want to include what motivates him, his strengths, and a few targeted goals.
- Visit the cafeteria, office and health clinic.
- Play on the playground.
- Take photos of your visit to review at home. (You can use to create a social story .)
Ongoing throughout the year:
- Figure out the best communication process that works for you and the school.
- Schedule observations of your child during the school day to see how he is doing.
- Offer to volunteer in your child’s classroom, if your schedule permits and you think your child can handle it.
- Request teachers send home work samples to see how your child’s skills are progressing.
- Call for meetings whenever you find there is an issue that needs discussion.
- Encourage your child’s teachers to keep you informed of any problems that come up and how they are resolved.
- Keep a notebook and bring this notebook to all school meetings. The notebook should include: the current IEP, psychological and other evaluations, home goals, SLP goals, and any notes from your observations.
- Bake cookies for the teachers! Make sure you show your appreciation for their cooperation. A heartfelt note from you can be a wonderful gift for a teacher – more meaningful than a mug or gift card.
Getting to Know My Child: A Guide for My Child’s Kindergarden Teacher
School Transitions in the Elementary Grades
Planning School Transitions
Transition to Middle School
Middle School—The Stuff Nobody Tells You About: A teenage girl with ASD shares her experiences
Inclusive Programming for Middle School Students with Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome
Social Skills Picture Book
Preparing for the IEP Meeting
Your child’s IEP is crutial to his success in school. The process can seem daunting, but it can be completed in a timely and effective manner.
Before the meeting:
- Start preparing 1 or 3 months ahead.
- Find out your school’s observation policy, and request an observation for you to determine how your child functions at school.
- Invite your school team to observe your child at home or videotape a routine at home that you want to share and bring to the school team.
- Write a vision statement that creates a “picture” of what you would like your child to be able to do in the future.
- Review your child’s current progress reports and any recent assessments.
- Email specific goals you want to see included in the IEP.
- Ask for a draft ahead of time, it will be too much to digest in the meeting.
- If you want the school to speak with outside therapists, make sure to sign release forms.
- Jot down questions to ask in advance: homework questions, home school communication, hour adjustments for special education.
- Determine family priorities for your child. Annually think about these priorities (e.g. increase access to grade level content, increase access to peers, functional skills, increase student’s independence) and send these to the school in advance.
- Think about at what age your child should be included in the IEP process.
Who should attend the meeting?
Besides the parents, attendees can include the general education teacher, your district representative, and other professionals who could provide service to your child and input to the goals. This may include (but is not limited to) a speech pathologist, occupational therapist,physical therapist, school psychologist or a classroom aide.
See Additional Resources for a more detailed list of who is allowed to attend the meeting.
At the meeting:
- Share what is working well with your child at home and at school.
- Bring reports and data from other people, if applicable.
- Bring a list of your child’s medications in case the school has any questions about them.
- Collaborate to determine what your priority skills are.
- Ask questions if you need clarification. If any goals are not clear, ask to have them explained. You can request an explanation of Whose IDEA Is This? or ask for all technical terms to be explained.
- Aim high with your expectations in the meeting! Make sure the goals set for your child are a stretch, and not goals he will reach easily. It’s important for your child to have lofty goals to reach for.
- If you have concerns or want to think further about it, understand that you do not have to sign the IEP right then—you can take it home and return it later.
- For an older child (beginning at 14), talk about transition planning and think about whether your child’s priorities are being supported.
- Make sure you know how the school will communicate with you about your child’s progress, including frequency.
- Ask the team how you can support what is done at school.
If there is disagreement between you and the school team at the meeting:
- Discuss concerns
- Ask how you and the school can come to an agreement on goals
- Consider a separate meeting with only a few of the team members
What are my rights if I do not agree with the IEP?
- Review your Whose IDEA Is This? (parent procedural safeguard notice you received prior to the meeting) to inform you of your options.
- Communicate concerns to the school and put them in writing with specific examples.
- Contact your State Support Team, Family Service Coordinator, or Parent Mentor for further assistance.
- Consult an Ohio parent advocacy organization’s website for further information or assistance.
- If you are at a stalemate, consider requesting an independent outside evaluation.
After the meeting ends:
Know that you can call for a meeting with your team any time to discuss any item on the IEP—you do not have to wait for your next IEP review. You can also request a conference with any one person on the team as questions arise.
Identification of IEP Team Members and their Roles
All About the IEP
Wright’s Law—Writing SMART IEPs
Free IEP Checklist Phone App
From Emotions to Advocacy (2nd ed.) by Pam and Pete Wright
The 7 steps in the development of an Individualized Education Program (video)