When I was in school, the beginning of the school year was the most exciting part. I loved finding out who my teachers would be, which friends would be in my class, buying new notebooks. I loved it all.
When I taught school, it was the same thrill. It was a joy to find out who would be in my class and know the possibilities that lie ahead for that year.
I looked forward to that same feeling of excitement for my own children.
Having a son with Asperger's is not the same kind of excitement.
It's more like the feeling you have before entering a haunted house.
At the beginning of each year, I now feel a sense of dread and urgency. Who will the teacher be? How will they respond to him? Will the kids in his class(es) be nice to him? Will this be the year he finally makes a friend?
Ahhhh... the questions.
This year my son with Asperger's is starting Middle School. We all know how fun that was.
Keeping up with one teacher was challenging. Keeping up with three and then four teachers, yikes. This year it will be six teachers.
In our school district, they find out around the same time we do that they will have an Asperger's kiddo in their class. How in the world do they prepare for that in the mess of a few days time they have to prepare for school starting? How can they learn the ins and outs of my child's behavior and ability when they see him for an hour a day?
One of the things I have done for the last four years is to create a portfolio. We call it a portolio, but it is more like a "cheat sheet" for my son. Our teachers love it. It personalizes our family and gives them a different perspective on our lives and our goals.
Depending on your child's age, you will want to adjust accordingly. A younger child can have more pages and pictures. An older child will need the portfolio condensed to one page.
One mom in our support group told her college-aged son about portfolios and he made himself one and presented it to his professors. Guess what? Success! Even at the college level, the portfolio proved helpful. Who knew?
When you create your portolio, it should be a reflection of you and your family. When I Googled, I didn't come up with any examples. In a future post, I plan to give you visual example of a portfolio. For now, I will give you some thoughts for important elements to use in your own.
Information for your portfolio might include:
- Contact information for parents or other caregivers
- Pictures of the student and family (fun pictures are a bonus)
- Medication Information
- Therapy Information (past and present)
- Diet Information
- Sensory Information
- Meltdown Triggers
- Calming Techniques That Work
- Goals For the School Year
- Special Interests of the Student
- Strengths (this should always be included)
Time to get to work on your kiddo's portfolio. Give a copy to everyone on their education team. Prepare as much as you can for the upcoming year.
And deal with the rest as it comes.
If you have strategies to share for starting a new school year, we would love to have you guest post or comment!
Happy 2012-13 school year!
It IS going to be a great one.