Back to School Time for Children with Special Needs

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson

The Illinois Suburban Journal has posted a great article on “Unique first day pressures face kids with special needs.”

Changes in routine can be upsetting for any child with special needs, especially a child with autism.

Prior to the first day of school, if you have a child with special needs, it’s probably a good idea to communicate with the school to set up a time for you and your child to meet the new teacher and see the classroom. The teacher should spend enough time with you and your child to walk through what the new routine will be this school year.

Spending time establishing a relationship with your child’s teacher will help you, your child, and the teacher understand better how to ease your child into that first day of school. If your child’s teacher learns about your child’s special triggers and sensitivities before the first day of school, it can make the transition much better. It can also help the teacher help prepare better for your child if special preparation needs to be made, such as extra visual charts for the class schedule, as suggested in the Journal article.

Once school is underway, your child’s special services will begin. When your special needs child attends public school and is receiving special educational services, the school is required to provide your child with an individualized education plan (IEP). An IEP must be updated yearly to ensure that a child is receiving the necessary services to achieve that child’s goals. It will be important to educate yourself about the IEP process and what can and should be included in your child’s plan.

When you have a child with special needs, you will have to continue to advocate for your child throughout his or her educational process. At times, it will feel like a never ending battle with the school to ensure that your child is receiving necessary services.

But in the end, it is up to you to stay on top of your child’s educational process. Consult the experts, attend seminars your school district provides, and be your child’s educational advocate.

Posted by Attorney Misty A. Watson. Watson’s practice focus is estate-related: planning, administration, and probate. She creates trusts, wills, financial, and health care powers of attorney, guardianships, and conservatorships.  


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