Avoiding Unmatched Expectations
The demise of any relationship is the result of unmatched expectations. The same is true for parent – school relationships.
Too often I talk to parents of children with special needs. They expect a menu plan to be offered to them. It’s really not their fault. After all, our society has conditioned us to look for the “value meal” or the “ultimate experience.” The reality is that in the world of education, there is no “one size fits most” option when it comes to children with special needs.
Believe me when I tell you that if there was a parent to advocate for a “happy meal” option – I would buy 100% of them to secure my son’s success.
I guess that’s just it; parents of children with special needs want to know that there is some menu that is fair and that provides a guarantee that our kids get exactly what they deserve and one that will deliver measurable and guaranteed results.
The reality is that as much as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) provides a program designed by the team, that roadmap can vary significantly. The drivers of the journey have different backgrounds, strengths and training. As much as I find comfort in this system, as a parent of a special needs child, it can also be quite scary depending on the “roadsters” involved.
So what can you, a parent of a child with special needs, do? Here are a few tips for the start of a new school year or a first meeting with a school team:
1. Give the full report:
Collect reports and updates from all private and school therapists and providers. It takes the emotion out of it and brings just the facts to the table. It can also help prevent duplication of testing.
2. Witness Videos:
The challenge with non-verbal or non-compliant children is getting professionals/ teachers to witness their intelligence. Trust me when I tell you that my son is determined to not show you how smart he is! Time and time again, therapists would say, “Unless I had witnessed it, I would never have believed how smart he is!” I often video tape our son doing everything from laughing (a sign of intelligence) to demonstrating his ability to read, to participating in pretend play or interacting with others. I do it not for the “Kodak moment”, but to arm myself with proof that my child is not a mute and that he is a person with a voice that needs to be unleashed.
(Continued on page 2)