Monday, August 22, 2011

Tips for Changing Schools

How to ease anxiety-provoking transitions for a child with special needs 

Beth Arky

With the new school year on the horizon, most parents are busy stocking up on fall clothes and folders. But those of you with special-needs children have a lot more than shopping to think about. Kids and teens with diagnoses such as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, learning disabilities, or anxiety issues are already going to need more of your support than typically developing kids as they say goodbye to summer and prepare for the return to school. But if your child is transitioning to a less (or more) restrictive setting, that need will be even greater.

When you create your child's annual individualized educational program (IEP) with your team of educators, the goal should always be to provide whatever support she needs to learn and grow in the least-restrictive setting. For instance, you and your team may have determined that she is ready to move from a small, self-contained class of special-needs children with a very low student-to-teacher ratio to a less restrictive setting. This could mean a bigger class where the majority of the students are typically developing, with fewer adults in the room. This new setting will require your child to be more independent, organized and self-regulating. Conversely, you may have agreed that she would benefit from a smaller, more restrictive setting, possibly with additional therapies.
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