Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Things Every Parent Of A Child With Autism Should Know

Jennifer Cerbasi
Jennifer is an educational consultant who works with families and educators to establish healthy and productive routines in the home and school. Adapting behavior management techniques she implemented for years as a special educator, she helps parents and teachers adopt these tools to fit their unique needs and priorities. In addition to her one-on-one consulting work, Jennifer speaks to parent and education groups on current topics in education and children's health. For more information, go to

1) A diagnosis does not define your child.

Don't listen to anyone who limits your child because of his diagnosis. The diagnosis is helpful in that it assists in getting your child the services he needs but when discussing his progress, clearly defined goals are what makes the difference. It is important to look realistically at what skills your child is struggling with and address them systematically. 

2) You are part of your child's educational team. Speak up.
Your participation in your child's education is not limited to helping with homework. You have the right- and the power- to ask questions of your child's teacher, case manager, and the school district. Meet with your child's teacher. Attend Board of Education meetings. Get involved in the Parent Teacher Organization. Make sure the school knows who you are and that you are an active part of your child's educational team.

3) Find reliable information. Don't rely on word-of-mouth recommendations.
Both federal and state's Department of Education websites have information regarding the laws, statistics, and grants that are available. Another good resource for information is Wrightslaw, a special education advocacy website. Find practical tips for maximizing your child's educational experience.

4) The teaching assistant assigned to your child has the most impact on your child's education. 
Though the teacher and therapists create and monitor IEP goals, the teaching assistant or shadow working directly with your child spends the most time with her. Since most teaching assistants are not required to hold a teaching certification, ask an administrator what training and support they provide for these important team members throughout the year. Invite the teaching assistant to the IEP meeting so she can contribute to the planning and reporting of goals.

5) Siblings of children with autism are greatly affected by the disorder.
You do your best to balance your attention between all your children but no matter how hard you try, autism will change your family dynamic. Make sure your typically-developing children have an opportunity to express themselves and find support, whether it's talking to you, a counselor, or a support group. The sibling of a child with autism feels a great many things, ranging from frustration to disappointment to even pride in his sibling, and it's important to make sure he feels he has an outlet for all of those emotions.
Lee este articulo en español aquí.