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Back-To-School Tips For Parents of Special Needs Children


Become involved. One of the smartest and most effective things you can do for your child’s education is to simply be part of it. Get to know teachers, paraprofessionals, therapists, and administrative personnel early in the school year.

• Form a winning partnership. Your child’s educators will be more helpful and involved when you come forward as an engaged partner. Tell and show them you want to collaborate. Be open, honest, and approachable and they will be the same. Discuss best practices for communicating on a regular basis and building a successful team. Set realistic goals based on your child’s abilities and needs. Meet periodically throughout the year to stay on top of everything.

*Seek help if you need it. The teaching staff can offer advice on appropriate academic activities and lesson plans for your son or daughter. Therapists may help you develop some easy and practical activities you can do at home that will reinforce their work. Take advantage of their expertise and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

• Network. If possible, participate in some school activities and events, attend PTA meetings and parent workshops. These are great ways to meet other parents and build a support team. You can make some new friends and may even find some potential “play dates” for your child.

• Know your rights. Your son or daughter is entitled to a good and appropriate education. If for any reason, you’re not satisfied with other goals set for your child, you can seek to change the situation. Speak with the teaching team, school principal, or other administrative staff to resolve these issues.

• Be the head cheerleader. Make sure you celebrate your child’s achievements, no matter how small. Praise your son or daughter constantly and tell him/her you’re proud.

• Have a good time with your child. Like any child, yours deserves to be a kid – to have some fun, enjoy the experiences of life and just relax sometimes. And you know what? You deserve that too. Don’t spend every waking moment analyzing your child’s behavior or trying to modify it. They get enough of it in school with constant observation and therapy. So have a good time. Do some arts and crafts. Take a day trip to the museum or go see a movie. Remember, every experience can create new learning opportunities.

• Remember, you’re human. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Just about every parent of a special needs child ends up feeling stressed-out or frustrated with the special education system at some point. So, don’t feel bad – you’re in good company! Cut yourself some slack every once in a while.

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