How To Support Your Learner's Transition Back To School
Updated: Oct 3, 2022
We can’t believe the school year is back so soon! Summer flew by, and now we’re ready to continue supporting your child as they take on a new and exciting academic year. After a brief summer hiatus, it’s likely that your child will be resuming school-based interventions such as speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, or classroom learning support. This month’s blog shares insight into how you, as a parent or guardian, can best support your neurodivergent learner and work with your child’s related service providers to achieve optimal learning and communication scenarios in the classroom.
As we’ve touched on in prior blog posts, neurodiversity is the idea that brain differences, such as ADHD, autism, or learning differences, are all natural variations in a wide array of human brains. The neurodiversity paradigm allows for acceptance of all ways of thinking, learning, and interacting with the world and rejects the thought that differences are deficit in their nature.
Did you know there are ways to advocate for neurodiversity-affirming goals and practices in your child’s IEP and classroom? The first and best way to increase awareness about neurodiversity is to share informational resources with your child’s teachers and providers! We have included links to multiple infographics that can be easily printed or emailed and shared, described below. Please note: we did not create these documents, but have reviewed them for accuracy of information.
The first document, linked here, contains examples for how your child’s educational team can approach the modification of compliance-based IEP goals to neurodiveristy-affirming goals that allow for autonomy and self-advocacy. The next two documents apply specifically to learners who are gestalt language processors and/or learners who are gestalt language processors utilizing AAC.
As we’ve mentioned before, sensory and emotional regulation lead to optimal learning states! Without regulation, “learning areas” within the brain simply can’t be accessed. This article from Harkla provides tons of ideas and research-backed support for sensory-inclusive classroom items and procedures that promote regulation for ALL students, not just neurodivergent students. We highly recommend reading, then asking your child’s classroom teacher about the ways in which sensory needs are considered in the classroom! For suggestions about sensory supports specific to your learner that could be carried over into the classroom environment, please feel free to ask us!
May we also suggest sharing information about your child’s preferred mode of communication (speaking, AAC, sign, writing, a combination, etc.) and known sensory-supporting strategies with your child’s teachers and providers? This creates an open line of communication about the ways in which your child accesses his/her curriculum and can lead to progress check-ins and modifications to in-class sensory and learning supports throughout the year. For example, perhaps your learner prefers to speak to communicate, and gets the most benefit out of learning when he/she is sitting on a ball chair and has access to frequent movement breaks throughout the day.
This is a vast topic and we have only scratched the surface in terms of information and suggestions. If there is anything we can do to further support your child’s learning plan with their return to school, we welcome a check-in call to discuss your specific ideas and questions! We hope your month ahead is filled with smooth transitions and lots of joy, as well as continued growth in learning and communication.