Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beat the Back to School Jitters: Sockit Mama's Request “Ten Things” by Ellen Notbohm For Your Teachers

Request “Ten Things” by Ellen Notbohm For Your Teachers 
Written on AUGUST 9, 2011 by SOCKIT MAMA

Our Copies of Ellen Notbohm's Books

My son is about to enter mainstream third grade. If I said I wasn’t nervous about the challenges ahead of him, I’d be lying. I’ve seen some of the state standards they’ll be learning and I know that the attention-span and sensory-regulation required to follow-through with the curriculum requires a greater level of maturity than in second grade. Reading skills will require greater cognition and math will require more analysis. Third grade is going to be tougher for all the kids, but particularly for those on the autism spectrum.

I’ve done my part, as a parent, in preparing my son for third grade. In between the travel and extra-curricular activities, he’s had tutoring this summer in math and language-arts so he can hit the ground running. But, when school starts, I’m also relying on his teachers and support staff to step up to the plate and do their parts in helping him succeed.

One of the things that I recommend to my son’s teachers at the beginning of the school year is that they read books on autism; particularly books that explain how those with autism think, react and feel. However, I’ve noticed that many parents have a hard time making this type of request. I’ll never forget the first time I told another autism mom that I recommended to my son’s IEP team that his teacher and aide read Temple Grandin’s, “The Way I See It.” She didn’t believe me. So, I pulled out the written IEP and showed her. She asked me how I could do such a thing, that that’s an insult to them because they’re the professionals. And, teachers are too busy. She truly felt I had crossed my boundaries and went on to say that they probably were offended.

Well, they probably were. But, you know what? Tough shi$! Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. Excuse my O’Hara, but I’m raising a Black boy in the United States of America with a disability (a double whammy!) and the stats on him even graduating from high school are not good. So when it comes to his education, I need to do everything possible to help my son achieve. I’m out there advocating every year for my son’s right to a good education and I don’t care about people getting offended or having egos so big that they’re not receptive to a recommendation from a parent.

Now, I understand that teachers are busy. With budget cuts and class-size increases, their jobs are hard. We can all appreciate that. But, I’m not asking them to read War and Peace or Remembrance of Things Past. Most autism books are reader-friendly and my request is due to all the times I’ve had to explain my son’s behaviors and motivations to teachers and “professionals”… people who are supposed to know better. We take it for granted that these people know everything about autism; but the fact of the matter is, they don’t. They’re learning the same way we are. And, every child on the spectrum is different. So they need to learn how to help my child and your child, individually.

Parents should never be intimidated to ask those teaching their children to read books or materials they feel can help; especially if they do it respectfully. Yes, teachers are in authority positions and we look up to them, but it’s not about them – it’s about our kids. If you know that information within a book can give an educator guidance on how to handle a situation with your child, please request that they acquire that resource or provide it for them. If they’re not receptive to it, then it’s time to call an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) Meeting. You need to put the issue on the table for discussion because nobody – I mean nobody – should object to any reasonable resource that is easily obtainable and will help your child get from A to Z.

Two books that I have often given to those teaching my son are, Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew and Ten Things Your Student With Autism Wishes You Knew by author, Ellen Notbohm. She is an autism mom herself and writes in a style that’s very clear and easy to understand. These books that began as articles are written from the perspective of someone with autism and have been widely received. I have gotten a great deal out of them and two of her “10 Things” that have become like meditations for me when dealing with my son are:

#3 – “Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to).” From Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew.

#10 – “Behavior is communication: yours, mine and ours.” From Ten Things Every Student With Autism Wishes You Knew.

Most of us autism parents have already read these books and appreciate them. But, how many of us have actually requested that our teachers read them? Now that a new school year is upon us, I will be requesting that my son’s new teacher reads these books. And, I’m not doing that to cross boundaries or appear pushy; I am doing it to help my child. Again, this is about my son. This is about my son’s future. This is about him getting the best education he can in order to make it in this world.

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew and Ten Things Your Student With Autism Wishes You Knew can be purchased at Future Horizons.

I’m not perfect. For corrections, please email me.

Love You,

1 comment:

Jaxmom said...

You go, Mama! Speaking as a mom who just a minute ago sent an email link to my article on why my child has special needs to both my son's principal and his new teacher, I can totally relate! My husband and I have read both of these books (my personal favorite is #3 "I won't" vs. "I can't"), and now I am for sure going to give his new teacher a copy of "10 Things Your Student with Autism Wants You to Know." If we don't fight for our children, who will? I know she's got 29 other children in her class, but some of those other children also have autism. Never stop fighting for your child! (((Hugs)))

Debbie K.



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