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It is difficult enough for parents with children approaching their first days of school. For parents whose children have autistic spectrum disorders, normal fears can turn into nightmares as they try to assist their child into what should be a typical transition in life. Fortunately, there are a great many resources and things you can do, particularly concerning Asperger’s and classroom accommodations for your child. With a little bit of preparation on the part of parent and educator, there is no reason to worry about the ability to make it a pleasant and easy time for the child.
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You are Not Alone
The first thing for an Asperger’s parent to keep in mind is that you are not alone. Nearly one in 110 children born today are diagnosed with some type of autistic spectrum disorder, and while those numbers look bleak, it is paramount for you to remember that with these diagnoses come greater levels of education and training, not only on the part of parents and pediatricians, but also teachers who will guide your child through his or her scholastic career.
These teachers, through college and continuing education, are trained to understand Asperger’s, and classroom accommodations can certainly be arranged to assist your child in learning. There are a few things that you can do to be as helpful as possible.
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Children with Asperger’s will usually have an Individual Education Plan, or an IEP. This plan is good for the entire school year and will lay out all the goals that your child will work toward during the year. While every child is different, most “aspies" need help with social skills and this would be outlined in the IEP. You or the teacher can request that changes be made to the IEP during the year, so that if your child is progressing better than expected or if your child is struggling, the IEP can be fine-tuned.
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First, research the school and find out the educator who will be taking care of your child. In the weeks prior to the beginning of the school year, make a point to meet several times with the teacher to discuss exactly where your child stands regarding Asperger’s. You would be surprised to find that many teachers have plans in place for children just like yours; they only need to know so that they can implement them.
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After discussing what plans are in place, it is incumbent upon the parent to know what their child needs specifically to be successful. Help can be found among the great number of “aspie" parents who contribute to online forums, as well as a good number of books written on Asperger’s and classroom accommodations.
Your child’s developmental pediatrician and occupational therapist can help as well if you have them. In a lot of cases, simply ensuring the teacher has good visual charts for your child to work from will help immensely. Sometimes, the way a teacher can present the subject to the child can make the difference between scholastic success and failure.
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Finally, one of the best ways to work with your school regarding Asperger’s and classroom accommodations is by tracking the patterns that your child has throughout the day. Are there certain times when you see behavioral improvement? Are there times that are particular bothersome? It may even be best to keep a journal noting the answer to these questions. In this way, you and the teacher can develop a plan to make sure your child utilizes his of her time effectively. By working with the resources around you, and knowing your child, any parent can help their Asperger’s child achieve success in the classroom.
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“Using Social Stories to Teach Kids with Asperger’s Disorder" - http://www.brighthub.com/education/special/articles/29487.aspx.
“Asperger’s Syndrome and Your Child", Family Education - http://life.familyeducation.com/aspergers/parenting/36123.html.