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How to Prepare Your Neuro Diverse Child for School

ph: freepik

When some parents think about sending their children back to school, they rejoice imagining the free time they will have back in their hands, and the precious silence of a calm house that is not suspicious; but for other parents it’s not so easy. Some parents experience anxiety and high levels of stress thinking how the transition to school will be. Whether is a new teacher, new friends, new schedule, new classroom, new school or the same as the previous year. For some neurodiverse children, change is not something they look forward to. The summer was great and full of adventures, but we are ready (not so ready) to jump back into the new school year and go back to the winter routine and the holiday vibe. Here, the experts at present you with some ideas that will help making that transition a little easier and less stressful.

Make a Wishlist Checklists are great to help us get organized. When choosing the right placement for your child, it is important that you have a list of the things you are looking for in an ideal placement. For example, if your child needs special accommodations, it is important that the school you select counts with a team of professionals that can make those special arrangements a reality. It is important than the school has an ESE department and that your child gets an evaluation and obtains an Individualized Education Plan or IEP. A wish list of professionals, resources and special accommodations comes very handy. I am not saying you will get it all everywhere, but it is important to get as close as possible to the right support so your child can achieve his maximum potential. Select the best placement for your child Knowing the needs, strengths and weaknesses of your child will help you decide which is the best placement for him or her. If your child has a medical diagnosis such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, or a learning disability, most likely, he or she, will automatically qualify for special services. Each child is different and so is their adaptation capacity, that is why it’s important to get your child evaluated by the school district to find out the impact of their diagnosis on his or her academic performance, socialization, and independent functioning. These evaluations will generally lead to a 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Transitioning from Early Intervention? Even Easier. The Early Steps Program, offered in Dade and Broward Counties, among others, has two parts, Part C which involves the evaluation and treatment of children 0-3 years of age and the psychoeducation of their caregivers, providing different types of therapies such as Speech and Language Therapy (SLP), Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT) and Behavior Analysis (ABA) under the instruction of an Infant and Toddler Developmental Specialist (ITDS). Part B is the plan to transition children from the parent training model to the school system and help them obtain the best placement for their child. The Acronyms!! I know but bear with me.

If you started early, you are already familiarized with the Family Support Plans of FSP. Children 0-3 years of age who show signs of developmental delays, including speech, motor, coordination, or other conditions, qualify for an FSP plan. This is what is known as Early Intervention. Early Intervention aims to address developmental challenges as early in age as possible to improve a child’s condition before age 3. Parent training is an incredible tool when it comes to develop early language and social skills. Parents of children enrolled in the program will receive an evaluation and placement orientation to fulfill their needs and make sure their thrive once they start school. At school a new plan will be created to address the impact of the condition in the academic environment, that is known as the EIP we mentioned before. Here at Blue Minds, we offer consultation services, and can sit and discuss it one to one with you and dig in the specifics of your case to guide you in the right direction.

Register your child in school with enough time Once you have selected the right school, it’s important that you do the enrollment process with enough time. If your child has been attending the same school for years you are already a pro on how to go about the whole registration process. However, some parents are new in this arena and may feel confused, overwhelmed, or even lost when it comes to the registration process. It is important that you know that if your child is attending his homeschool, the registration is open throughout the school year, but if you requested for him or her to attend a different school, registration may depend on availability. Your child has a homeschool assigned depending on your home address (not so much on your zip code). It is important that you locate the assigned school and verify they have the specialized programs and resources your child will need throughout the school year. This information can be found in the Broward School website. Obtaining Additional Services and Special Accommodations As we mentioned before, special accommodations are not made just because your child has a special condition, but because that condition impacts his academic or social performance in the school environment. If your child has obtained an EIP, there will be a list of special requests included to help your child succeed while in school. However, some services must be requested before obtaining special services. For example, augmentative communication devices require a prior evaluation by a Speech and Language Pathologist to determine if they are appropriate for the individual and to identify the correct device. Another example is access to Occupational Therapy services, special transportation services, etc. There are special accommodations designed to facilitate your child’s learning and reduced the “opportunity gap”. That means that your child may not be able to write properly yet, but if given a slant board and a pencil grip he can do it or start working towards that goal, then the school has the responsibility to assist and provide the correct resources so he or she have the same opportunity at success that another peer without that challenge; and design a plan to also fade out the assistance if appropriate when the child shows readiness. Getting the right support I get it! Starting school or making changes may seemed complicated but it doesn’t have to be if you count with the right support. Blue Minds counts with a team of experienced professionals, that can help you make knowledgeable decisions. We offer advocacy services and count with partners and resources that can support you even further if needed. Give us a call!


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