Having a child with special needs means spending a significant amount of time getting them help at home and at school. Sometimes, schools have special education programs designed for children who require extra support, but you can’t always count on that. Not all programs are sufficient, and they often don’t provide adequate support for kids with autism.
If your child has special needs, it’s up to you to get them the right support. Here are some ideas that can help.
- Get your child in-home therapy
Does your child benefit from therapy, or are you thinking about trying it? The best way to provide therapy for your child is in your own home. Kids tend to feel most comfortable in a familiar environment, which contributes to their success. Many kids don’t do well interacting with strangers or visiting unfamiliar places. At least if your child is unsure about meeting new people, it won’t be so stressful having their sessions in the comfort of their own bedroom or living room.
Kids with autism particularly benefit from seeing a therapist in the family home. In-home ABA therapy sessions are popular for this reason. To qualify, you just need a formal qualifying diagnosis and then you can request an assessment.
A team of professional therapists will come to your home and interact with your child in order to evaluate them. If they’re a good fit, you’ll work with the clinical team to create a schedule for ongoing therapy sessions.
Having your child work with a therapist is an excellent way to support them fully. The benefits will extend into every area of their life, including academically.
- Request a meeting with their teachers
The best way to support your child at school is to meet with their teachers to discuss their individual circumstances and have a say in their lessons. You don’t necessarily need to control the content of what’s taught, but your child’s teachers need to be aware of their limitations, triggers, and methods that work to keep them calm. They need to know how to read your child’s body language and when to alter a lesson to accommodate their needs.
Don’t just leave these meetings up to the school to facilitate. Get in touch with the principal or dean and ask for a meeting as soon as possible. The faster you get your child’s teachers on board, the better.
- Read to your child often
When you read to your child, they’ll have a better chance of learning whatever you’re sharing. Whether it’s a fictional story for entertainment or something related to a lesson, some kids learn best by listening. Listening to stories with dialogue will also help your child understand how people interact with each other.
Reading to your child isn’t only to help them learn. Kids love having stories read to them and it’s an excellent way to bond. Ideally, you should mix it up and read some fun stories and books with lessons. Also, take every opportunity to read out loud to your child. Read street signs, menus, postcards, or anything else nearby.
- Create your own definition of success
“Success” means something different to everyone, and it’s crucial to create your own definition based on your child’s needs, abilities, and limitations. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting anyone else’s definition, especially when it comes from your child’s school. Academic institutions don’t account for individual circumstances when setting goals for children, even in special education. Your child might make significant progress and still “fail” according to their school’s standards.
Having a customized definition of success is important because without it, you won’t know when your child has made progress. However, you may want to skip the generality and just stay focused on individual goals and milestones. This way, every small achievement can be celebrated as a success and you can adjust each goal realistically.
- Learn about your child’s condition in-depth
Take the time to learn everything you can about your child’s condition. This will help you understand them better and will equip you with the knowledge needed to help when it matters most.
For instance, you’ll be better able to spot signs of a medical issue before it becomes a major problem, and you can advocate for them outside the home, like at school and in group programs. Knowing your child’s condition in-depth also means you can press the issue if your concerns get dismissed by a physician.
Pay attention to small changes
Last, but not least, pay attention to the changes your child goes through, whether positive or negative. The best way to support them is to be aware of where they’re making progress and where they need further assistance.