by Julie Coulter
If you're a parent who's just beginning to "walk the special education road", here are a few suggestions which I hope will guide you along the way.
1. You are your child's best advocate. Focus on your child's strengths rather than their special needs.
2. Please realize that you are not alone and that there are many folks in the world who can help you: other parents, educators, and medical professionals. I always like talking to a parent whose child is older than my own child because I can learn from his or her experience. Learn to ask for help.
3. Communicate regularly with the educational staff at your child's school and establish a good working relationship with the administration. Being an understanding parent who volunteers to help with school functions will help your child more than becoming an adversary of school officials. Networking with other parents will also help when your child needs support in participating in social activities.
4. Read, read, read! I had no formal education in child development so I had to do a lot of research. Look for information both in your local library and on the Internet and talk to educators in your community to find information that will help you understand your child's special needs.
5. If you have Internet access, subscribe to monthly newsletters from sources such as the Learning Disabilities Association (www.ldonline.org) and Wrightslaw (www.wrightslaw.com) for up-to-date resources.
6. Find local parent support groups which may hold conferences or monthly parent support meetings.
7. Find ways to create positive experiences for your child in social settings, which make the most of his or her individual strengths. Help other adults who come in contact with your child to understand how to support your child.
8. Enjoy your child's unique perspective on the world!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Coulter and her husband, Dan, produce videos that support people with Asperger Syndrome and autism. You can find more articles on their website at:www.coultervideo.com.
Copyright Coulter Video 2004 Used by Permission All Rights Reserved