by Lori Swetoha
When my son with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was entering Pre-Kindergarten 13 years ago, I was certainly more nervous about sending him off than I felt when his brothers started school. I’m sure as each school year approaches, most parents of children with any disability feel the same way — nervous, scared, etc. Questions cross our minds as… “Who will be his teacher?”, “Will he/she work well with him?”, “Will the year be full of gains or more challenges?”, “How long will it take before he/she feels comfortable?”, “How long will it take before his IEP is implemented fully?” and so on.
To alleviate some of my own concerns of a new teacher not knowing my son, as well as get his entire team up to speed on his learning style, triggers, sensory or behavioral issues, speech and language challenges, social, emotional and all the other slew of characteristics or challenges that would arise throughout the day, I created the “All About Me” letter to each member of his team.
Sounds easy right? Writing a simple, short, one-page note to your child’s new teacher. YIKES! When you really think about all the things you want to say or need to say, it’s not so short or one-page (maybe if double sided). However, you can keep it in order by breaking it up into sections, short points with supportive actions or ideas and think like a teacher—what would they need to know?
On the upper right hand corner of the page, include your name, phone number (yes or no to text) and email for quick reference, then begin the task…drafting the details. Here are some things to include in your letter, email or designed page to share with your child’s new teacher (and team) so not only you can feel more at ease, but it can help him/her get up to speed (not wasting time) on how to engage the best possible way with your child from the get-go!
State great things about your child in this section, and although he may have a variety of challenges, there are many successes, strengths and great attributes about him that must be recognized. It's also ideal that the teacher teaches to his strengths
from the start.
Answer questions such as…what he’s good or great at, what are his strengths, where he has grown the most as it relates to development, what interests does he have (i.e. dinosaurs, cars, trains, Mickey Mouse, etc), what his great accomplishments were last school year, etc. You can even add what he loved doing over the summer. It’s “a lot” of reading in a full paragraph, so try bullet pointing each topic with the answer/statement (i.e. Interested in: anything green and dinosaurs).
Areas of Development
What challenges does your child face when it comes to
the areas of development? In this section...
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Did you write your "All About Me" letter this year? Here are some pointers...it's never too late!