25 Things Parents of Children with Special Needs Want Their Kids’ Teachers to Know.

A couple of months ago I gave a presentation for people who are training to become special education teachers and to prepare, I asked the parents on the Easy to Love Facebook page what advice they’d give these future teachers. The advice they gave was spot-on – not just for people training to work with   kids specifically designated “exceptional,” but for ALL teachers, since most of our kids are mainstreamed.

Here’s the advice. It’s wonderful. Pass it around. Link to it. Print it out. Share.
  1. school suppliesChildren with “invisible” special needs, like ADHD, PDD, SPD, PBD, FASD, OCD, Anxiety,  ODD, Autism, Asperger’s, and many others manifest their disabilities behaviorally. It is EASY to blame the parents for these behavioral problems. It is ACCURATE to see these behaviors as a result of their brain dysfunction.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communicate! We can’t help if we don’t know what’s going on.
  3. On the flip side, if we over-communicate, cut us some slack. We are not helicopter moms, we are experts in our own children’s special needs. They, and we, are often misinterpreted and we’ve found that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Let us squeak! It’s not nosiness. It’s not pestering. Really, most days, we would much rather say “It’s your school, you handle it, don’t call me”– but we want our kids to be successful. Which means being their best advocates. Which means we call or email as much as is necessary.
  4. Most kids with neuro-developmental disorders keep it together in school then let it all out at home. This is not because school is a more stable and structured environment. This is not because you can manage our children better than we can! This is because at home they feel safe, they can relax, and they take out their frustrations on the people who love them best. Believe us when we tell you that they do this. Realize that we are jealous that they can keep it together when they are with you.
  5. Treat us and talk to us with respect. Yes, you are a professional and you may have years of experience. But we LIVE with our children day in and day out.
  6. As parents we are our child’s best advocates. We know our children better than anyone. We are not outsiders, but are part of the IEP TEAM, treat us like the other team members. It should never be an “us against them” mentality. We all want what’s in the best interest of the child and that can’t happen if there is a line drawn in the sand.
  7. Realize that we know that our children can be exhausting, we live with them.
  8. Reach out to us and make us your allies because we will do whatever it takes to help our kids.
  9. Try to LIKE our children despite their behavior.
  10. Don’t yell at our children or punish their symptoms. You cannot punish or consequence brain differences away.
  11. Don’t give an ADHD boy soup to take home from cooking class in a resealable plastic bag and then ask why an earth he put it in his school bag.
  12.  EVERY child can learn, but not the same way.
  13. Please study multiple methods of teaching and never stop looking for answers.
  14. Never underestimate the power of sensory dysfunctions in students.
  15. Please listen to what I tell you about my child, I may not be a teacher or a doctor but I do know my child.
  16. Most children do not choose to be “bad” or “irritating”. In fact, they’d rather not be seen that way. Help them be good!
  17. Accommodations, kind words or showing a child that you are cheering for them can make a world of difference.
  18. Be patient with my child, it isn’t that he/she isn’t trying hard enough and doesn’t want to please you, it’s that some days he/she is simply doing their best to stay centered.
  19. Thank you for taking on the challenging kids. We didn’t have a choice in it – you did.
  20. I’m sorry. I’m sorry he disrupts the regular classroom, that he makes your job difficult and that he tries your patience.  And he’s sorry, too. More often than not he is not deliberately choosing to act this way.
  21. Just because you “knew” or “worked with” a child with ____ before, does not necessarily mean you know how to work with MY child. The label/diagnosis does NOT define the child. You do not know EVERYTHING about the child because of his/her diagnosis. First and foremost he/she is an individual with likes, dislikes, dreams, passions, strengths, and challenges, just like anyone else. Please take the time to recognize, acknowledge, and appreciate that.
  22. Twice Exceptional students DO exist!
  23. Please follow my child’s 504/IEP and help her to be the best that she can be and to reach her potential.
  24. If the hair doesn’t get combed or something like that- there is just so much energy to get thru the day on. Cut us some slack.
  25. It takes a special teacher to love our special children. Everyday will not be roses and daises and sunshine… but there will be those special days that your heart will melt or you will beam with pride when they have made a major accomplishment, helping you remember WHY you chose this profession. These children see you every day and will grow to either love you or fear you… make sure you choose wisely.

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3 thoughts on “25 Things Parents of Children with Special Needs Want Their Kids’ Teachers to Know.

  1. These are great. The challenge I’ve always found with educators however is that many of them actually have very short attention spans, just like our kids. Getting them to read past five “reasons why” is often impossible. I would love to take all this and be able to work some accommodations to make it much, much shorter. . . . And then, I would show them the original and say, “See, this is exactly what I am talking about. I took this and made it into THIS so you could learn it.”

  2. Hello,
    I have looked through as many sites as I possibly could and have not really found a site that is reflective of what the father of dad lives through with an FASD child. Are there no fathers out there who have challenges with an FAS child? All that I have read is reflective of the mothers point of view. Is it because many fathers aren’t as involved with their children as the mothers are? What is the deal here?

    As a dad of an adopted boy with FAS I can say that it is most frustrating to see what it is that the father can do as opposed to what the mother is able to do. Our child will be 13 his next birthday. Looking at him one would likely guess his age at around 5 or 6 which gives one the idea of his size. He came to us at 5 years old knowing how to speak only yes and no along with another word that described everything else in the world. He was not potty trained, came with serious food issues, and intellectually was not age appropriate.

    With our initial visit to foster parents, over one week, I was shocked to find out that everything that we requested in our adoption application not to have in a child was found in him. We had asked for no FAS and RAD. Coming out with degrees in social work and child and youth care we just shrugged our shoulders and said Ok we’re here so let’s get on with this. On our last day of visitation, before we were to take him and his sister home, the foster mother mentioned ever so quickly that he spreads his poop all over the wall and beds, he eats garbage, doesn’t talk, ect, ect.
    it all didn’t hit home until after his first night in our home.

    We walk into his bedroom and that smell of poop all over the walls and bed was something that we were not prepared for. This was followed by sending him outside to play while my wife and I cleaned the mess and find him outside eating the dog poop. Followed by telling him to go jump on the trampoline and finding him 45 minutes later still jumping and sweating. Then after dinner finding him digging through the garbage and swallowing what he could before I could catch him. That was day one at our home.

    Day two was working on letter and word pronunciation. It was an all day thing to session just get him to do the vowels of A-E-I-O-U. I had learned through school that facial muscles were what needed to be focused on as many children with FASD lack development in the facial area. After that day I understood why we had made our request to have children without FAS or RAD.

    to date he has been with us for almost eight years and things have not changed with his attachment to my wife, who by all accounts is the most loving and gentle mother and grandmother the world has known. Our son prefers to call her by her name rather than mom, is almost brought to tears if she asks him how his day was, has the language understanding of a 5 yr old, will steal food when the opportunity arises, will use his size and stature as a way to manipulate situations (making it hard to work with teachers aides), unsociable, ect, ect, ect. this all comes with raising a child affected by alcohol. And this is what I see from a fathers point of view. We do no what works and what does not work with or without our families support. Come on fathers or dads let me begin to see what you are living and loving with. thanks.


  3. Pingback: Tips for Working with Children with Special Needs - Uspiritus

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