Schools, Teachers, Autism: Working with the Specialists
This week we had our second (and my first) parent-teacher conference with my son's first grade teacher. She just started, has a Master's degree in Special Education, and is very excited to be working with her group of students. But this year, so far, she has been struggling with my son. That struggle has not been because of his inability to learn, but rather her struggle is trying to find ways to connect with him and teach him.
We discussed how we work with him at home, and what they see as a barrier in my son's development. It seems that he is highly visual and tactile, and needs a lot of deep pressure stimulation to calm down enough to perform in class. We talked about strategies for working with him, ideas that would be tried over the next couple of days, and what we can do at home to help him focus and work on learning.
In the past I had talked about how I get defensive about my son and the work we do with him at home. But it took a good talk with his Kindergarten teacher and the school psychologist (who tested his IQ and was frustrated, because there was no way to more accurately test him until he is more verbal) to understand that they were there to help us help them. They were the experts in special education, behavior techniques, and tools necessary to teach him, but needed us as parents to use their methods to reinforce the lessons. It seems odd to say this, as I teach for a living, but we as parents always want to "know what's best" for our children. And sometimes, we don't.
Perhaps that is why so many parents are now quick to blame teachers and schools for their children's failures. Instead of working with the teacher, they fight them for "judging" their child. It's frustrating for teachers, coddles children into thinking they don't have to work if they just make a big enough stink about every little grade, and parents are teaching their children that being a bully will get you what you want in the short term.Continued on the next page