Mainstream class? Special education?

It’s time for school. Or your child is already in school.

The autism diagnosis helped for everyone to understand your child’s behaviours a little better. But he is still having a lot of problems in school.

Many parents want inclusion and want their children to enroll in a “regular” class. However, this is when I find being honest to myself helps the most.

Is your child facing a lot of difficulties learning comparing to his peers?

What does your child need help for the most?

Can your child already dress himself, go to the washroom without help, read and write, and pay attention to the teacher, and participate in activities with other kids?

These questions should be asked every couple of months, with all honesty.

When the child is young, participating in the mainstream classes would probably be beneficial. With a little extra help and understanding, teachers and the school could probably help the child to engage in activities with peers.

However, when kids grow older, the gap might become bigger and more obvious. It might be a good idea to discuss with the school and the teachers and find out if there are other options.

The main focus should be on how to help the child to learn. But if the child is still unable to master certain life skills, I would probably focus on living independently in the future than trying to get him into an university.

Remember you should be a team with the school to make sure your child is learning no matter where he is. So it is important to find a school and class where the principal and the teachers understand.

And don’t rely on the school to do all the work. Parents’ involvement is the driving force of everything. After all, it’s our children and we care about them the most.

Most schools would be able to provide an individual education plan (IEP) for your child when they classify your child as a special need student. Sometimes these labels are necessary for them to fight for resources for your child. So I usually cooperate with them to get whatever labels and documents they need.

After all, they are just employees by the government and they would need help showing their boss why they need help to do their job.

Be a friendly face to the teachers, the principal and the secretary, the school bus driver, even the janitor. You will find many more people to keep an eye on your child for you.

Volunteer on field trips also help you to build a network with his peers.

Be firm with your requests for services and supports. But you are working with the school, not against them.

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