My kids are older now, almost adults! But, when they were babies and new to the system, I was in the classrooms volunteering as much as possible- I had eyes and ears telling me what kid did what to my kiddo that day, and I was on the PTA. Not to mention SEAC, TACA, TASA Board Member, Founder of Spectrum Parents, etc. I immersed myself into the world of Autism, and the community that supports that world.
The biggest challenges I’ve found always revolved around my kids and their school. It’s my hope that this information will help you with your autistic kids.
The following are some helpful tips for you and your kids to have a GREAT school year, and before you read on, know that the goal here is to make sure everyone is having fun and enjoying each moment. If you have any more tips or ideas, feel free to leave a comment:
Be a classroom mom. One year, I was a store manager and THAT was the best. I brought in my own presents and felt like SANTA. His classmates loved him.
Go to lunch as often as possible. Know all of the kid’s names. Bring goodies. I used to bring in those three-foot Twizzlers from the dollar store for every child in both my kid’s classes. Not to mention cookies, cupcakes, etc. AND my kiddo always passed everything out.
Take crazy fun pictures when they are in line at the end of lunch – before the teachers get there and tell the kids who aren’t supposed to have their pictures taken, to move to the side. The kids eat this up. Send it to the teacher so she can pass it onto the other parents.
Bring people like the sun wheelers to the school and photograph the event. They are the guys who play sports in wheelchairs. At the assembly, they play against the teachers. The kids go crazy cheering for their favorites. It also brings awareness that not everyone is the same and that’s ok. We did this in Nov, I think. The kids got to ask questions to the guys – and YOU KNOW my son got to participate.
I always wanted to do a parent panel just for the teachers giving them insight into our world. If you can, do this event. Believe it or not, getting involved in these events not only spread awareness, they can help you and others learn more about how to help your kiddos.
Remember that Autism Awareness Month is in April. Ask your media person if they could have a child with autism read one fact a day about Autism to bring Awareness to your school. Connor got to go a few times.
Ask for social skills training with the school counselor. My son got to handpick friends to go with him – and that scored big. It was during lunch. They did role-playing, board games, played with puppets, etc.
When he was being bullied at lunch, I asked if he could sit at one of the rounder tables and invite a few friends to join him. And of course, I brought treatsThrow a pool party, gaming bus party, nerf war party, etc, as soon as school starts. Invite the whole class. Take photos, email them to the teacher and ask if she’ll do a slideshow. Email them to the parents too.
As soon as you find a friend at school that clicks with your child, invite them to the movies, putt-putt golf, DQ, etc. Have them over for about 1 hour afterward, no longer. Limit the time, so it ends on a good note.
Throw magical classroom parties. Invite Santa for the Holidays, hire the snow cone truck for the end of the year party, buy big red lips – candy for Valentine’s Day, etc
In your child’s class do a PowerPoint of all the famous people who had/have autism. Do a Q&A session at the end.
Remember to take the opportunity to enjoy each moment with your kiddos. You’ll discover more about what interests them, and find ways to support their interests more. For more events, check out our calendar.
There is a “place” called Spectrum Parents. When you walk in, you’ll have a gut feeling that everyone there knows you. Families at Spectrum Parents don’t mind if you’re child is having a meltdown on aisle 5. You look around, smile, and relax because you finally found a place where you and your family can be yourselves. And then you realize, you know them too.
Autism Families that have found us…
-It’s a place where we blend in when we spend so much time standing out. Sometimes you just want to be part of the crowd and not the center of everyone’s attention. My husband, James was in the hospital overseas Wendi Bush (a member who moved away) was able to connect with me here and go visit him there. That was hands down my best moment in this group. I came here just for others to understand my stress and got way more than I hoped for. – Heidi French
-There’s no other place where no question is stupid, no problem too big or too small for someone to understand, where the whole family is embraced, loved, and accepted. – Karin Garrett
-It’s a way to connect with other parents on a daily basis. No more social isolation. Love the in-person events where our kids are embraced and accepted for who they are. – Jen S.
-No judgment, acceptance, new friendships not only for our kids but for people who get it, all of the advice, resources, the guidance.
Can I also just put the love! I have found more friendship in less last few months than I have been in here than I have anywhere.-Ciara R.
– It has been a place where people can ask for help and not feel judged. It is somewhere to celebrate where people will understand the small victories are just as important as the big victories.
Parents with kids on the Autism Spectrum are always hunting for Social Activities. A place where they can take their kids without feeling judged. Meltdown, anyone? You can do that at these events-REALLY. Need support now? Join Spectrum Parents.