If you have a child that is in school, you are probably enjoying summer break.

And probably watching the days on the calendar move closer to “school range”

I know that we did a double take on our calendar to see that my son starts school in one month!!!!

For those who have a child with special needs, the transition to a new school year means even more feelings and even more work.

I hope help those just starting on the road with the schools and those who have to maybe take a deep breath as they think of another year with the schools! The pandemic’s effects on the school are vast and they have so definitely affected the special education area. From decreased staff numbers to programs that may not be able to be what they were before.

Parents and caregivers so need to know that your advocacy is critical for your child.

I can across some thoughts that I had written years ago when Elizabeth was headed to middle school and leaving elementary school on just this topic: Hope they are what someone might need to hear today:

Our world has been changing, By that I mean we are just beginning to talk about Elizabeth’s transition from middle school to high school.  I find it exciting on one level and frightening on the other.  My thoughts go from ” I hope Elizabeth will be understood” to ” I hope that the new teacher and I will have the great relationship that I have now” to ” I am so happy to know how to advocate for my child”   The last skill has been one learned and fine-tuned with the very experiences of my life with Elizabeth.”

We have been working with the school for over 7 years now. I know my knowledge of how to advocate for Elizabeth has grown so much since her first year in the public school system. It is a funny and ironic thing but the schools are there to educate children but sometimes the schools need to be taught on how to teach a child with special needs.

My daughter has dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder( SPD), both disorders are not always recognized. But both make learning and achieving so hard.  And both affect Elizabeth each and everyday of her life… That makes teaching my child much more difficult.

This is where it became vital that I become an advocate….a strong advocate.

Being an advocate takes a total change in one’s mindset. It takes changing from assuming the school and teachers are doing what they are supposed to to making sure that they are.

It takes a lot of work and a lot of record keeping but most importantly a belief in your child’s abilities.

One of the hardest things, I think, is the initial conversation I had with the school about our child. She was just 3 years old then. I felt nervous describing her to them. Partly because I just did not feel they would understand her and her needs, and partly because I was just figuring out how to achieve successes with her and I wanted to make sure they understood how she “worked”. I grew in my strength as an advocate, so that my nerves were replaced by a calm feeling that I was strong in my ability to represent my child.

I think my advice to those just starting to think about talking to your school about your child, either the very first time or prior to a new school year is this….

BE SURE OF YOURSELF, DO NOT FEEL INTIMIDATED, AND FINALLY BELIEVE IN YOUR CHILD AND BE WILLING TO ADVOCATE FOR THEM IN ANY SITUATION.

Try to get yourself into the right mindset, the one being that You know your child better than anyone, that you know what they can do, what they can’t quite yet do and why.  

You know the signs of a meltdown, and signs of overload.

You know their sensory diet needs, you know why dyspraxia makes pencil holding hurt sometimes, or that focusing their eyes are hard.  You know how they learn best, when they need a break, how they like to take the break and more……

You know how they work and are ready to help teach the teachers. Don’t be afraid to do this.

YOU KNOW SO MUCH…Don’t doubt yourself. Living life with your child with special needs gives you knowledge that only you can have!

I think it is so important to get into a good mindset to be ready to think about a new school year and to talk to the school about your child. Be it in a ” new school year letter” or a face to face with your child’s new teacher.

Now is a good time to get this good strong mindset, so you will be ready to talk and to make sure that the new school year will be the right fit for your child’s needs.

After all the calendar is daring to flip to August faster than most would like.

I wish everyone a peaceful week!

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself