I think by the title you might think I am asking about your new year’s resolution or about how that new fitness plan is working out for you.  But in truth, I am asking about the new year related to your child and their school experience.

You know in the retail world they live by their own calendar:  They think about Summer in Winter, Christmas in July and Easter sometime in February.

Well those of us who have a child with special needs know that the school calendar for us runs a bit differently than  for those who have typically developing children.  For us, this time of year represents near to the end of the year.  Why? because IEP time is fast approaching and this means that the school and you will be looking at all successes and goals and evaluating them with  eyes that are not on the remainder of THIS year, but are looking at  NEXT year.  With conference night being the last official time that you will get the eyes and ears of the school staff focused on your child and their needs without you having to call a meeting.  Or at least until the official IEP meeting time.

So I ask…How is the year going?

Having a daughter with special needs, specifically dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder (SPD), I learned this lesson a while ago and pretty much the hard way.  So let me share some of my thoughts.

I have learned that any changes you would like made for this year, need to be made quickly and be put into play quickly because time is not really on your side.

Now is the time to note any issues that have arisen as your child restarts school after break: Trouble with friends? work? meltdowns after school? struggling with the work level or load?  Make notes and keep good records as these will help you when you talk to the school or when you meet for conference night.

Now is the time to communicate with the school.  I learned that talking once in the fall is not enough.  Keeping and open dialogue is huge.  If you don’t have daily communication sheets, maybe consider making one for the remainder of the year to keep the dialogue going.  Whatever you need to do, try to get it into action.

Now is the time to reread the IEP ( yes, I know I have said that before but it bears saying again)  As you read it ask yourself if your child has truly achieved the goals on the plan.  Ask yourself if you like the way the narrative looks now, does it truly reflect your child?  Ask yourself if you want completely new goals for next year and if so, write them down near the old ones as your read so you will remember.

I know we have not really had much time back to school since the break, but keeping in mind how the “special needs calendar” works.  January is not really January, it is more like April.

Now is the time to make the remainder of the year as productive as it can be.

So now you can ask yourself  how is the new year going?  and be ready to answer it truthfully while putting into play any new things you need or want done.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister

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