Bring an Apple to the Teacher: Teaching the Teacher

Teacher with a small group of students in a reading circle.
Teacher with a small group of students in a reading circle. Photo by Woodley Wonder Works.

 
Spending some time at the beginning of the school year to teach your child’s new teacher about your child can have lasting benefits.

Here are some tips on how to prepare a child on the Autism Spectrum’s new teacher in order to have a successful and mutually beneficial school year:

Awe the Teacher with Innovative Communication. Teachers are busy, especially during the first few weeks of school. However, you may have important information to share with the teacher regarding:

  1. allergies
  2. health-risk behaviors (e.g., wandering)
  3. communication style
  4. environmental triggers (e.g., loud bells that signal the change of classroom)
  5. your child’s Individualized Education Program.

In an effort to communicate critical information to a teacher, staff from Pacific Child and Family Associates have used Talking Photo Albums – these are inexpensive devices that allow you to insert pictures in a transparent sleeve (e.g., the picture of the foods your child is allergic to) and to record a voice message that the teacher can activate by pressing a button on the corner of the sleeve. The device is unique and fun to use. But more importantly, the device can be used as a medium for sharing information about your child.

Establish Rapport and Engagement. Good communication is necessary for all healthy relationships. In consequence, establish a pattern of kind and considerate communication with your child’s teacher at the beginning of the school year. In addition, know that your child’s success in school will be the direct result of the teacher’s capable engagement within the walls of her classroom in conjunction with your engagement within the context of your home. Therefore, do your part. Specifically, make time each day to attend to the organization of your child’s back pack, complete forms that need to be returned, share important information, review and respond to entries in a communication notebook, and assist your child with their homework.

Share Information about Health Risk Behaviors. If your child has a history of engaging in behaviors that put them at risk (e.g., wandering), and could potentially create an emergency situation for the school, ensure that you inform the teacher, and the relevant school administrators, of your child’s behavioral profile. In addition, ensure that your child is outfitted with an identification badge and/or a Global Positioning System so community members can assist in the event of an emergency.

Primary Needs. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder frequency require specific supports centered on their primary needs (e.g., food intake and bowel and bladder regimens). Therefore, communicate all essential information to your child’s teacher and/or classroom aide.

Michael Cameron PhD

Article written by

Dr. Michael J. Cameron is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (Charter Certificant 1-00-0010) and is The Chief Clinical Officer for Pacific Child and Family Associates (PCFA). He is experienced in the area of behavioral medicine, behavioral health assessment, and intervention for diverse populations.

 

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