Teaching an autistic child requires creativity and an understanding of the child’s strengths and weaknesses. You can not take one program and use it with all autistic children. Each program needs to be designed specifically for each child. This can be difficult for teachers. Having an IEP for your child helps, but it can also hurt.
Once an IEP is in place, it’s the bible, as far as most teachers are concerned. Some feel that they have to follow the IEP exactly, even if it turns out to not be appropriate for the child. Let’s face it. There are times when goals are made and they end up being too easy or too hard.
This is why it is important to keep in contact with your child’s teacher. Having a communication folder that goes back and forth, everyday, will help you keep up with what is going on in school. Request details, not just checks on subjects covered. Insist that the teacher tell you how your child did during each task.
You should also be willing to work with your child at home. There will be things that the school will not agree your child is ready to be taught. You, as the parent and the one person that knows your child the best, will know what your child is ready for. When this happens, you may need to pick up the slack at home. If he can demonstrate to you that he is ready for more advanced material, try to video the two of you working together. The school can argue with what you tell them, but they can not argue with a video.
Don’t let the cost of therapy products put you off of working with your child at home. There are practical and creative solutions that can be found at home. Does your child need a water/sand table for sensory play? The cost of one is too high for you? Make your own. Grab two buckets, a drop cloth(sheet, newspaper, etc.), and set them up on your table or outside. You can use water in one bucket and sand, rice, beans, oatmeal, or anything else you may have around the house, in the other. A creative, low cost alternative can be found for many therapy products. It just requires a little creativity.
I work with my son at home. I pulled him out of school last year, and home schooled him. That was the second time I have done that. This year, I will be putting him back into public school. I have accepted that they are not going to teach him the way I do. I have accepted that I will have to pick up the slack. It won’t be easy, but I think it will be what my son needs. I will continue to send him to private therapy. It’s nice that the school provides therapy, but it is done in the classroom. He needs one-on-one therapy. I’ve tried to insist that they pull him out of class, but they won’t. The solution for me is to keep him in private therapy.
Raising an autistic child is not easy. You have to be prepared to sacrifice and compromise. You do what you have to do. You are your child’s parent and advocate. Our lives are not easy, but they can be so rewarding.