How To Help The Teacher Cope With Your Child’s Disabilities

A new school year can be often worrisome and stressful, not just for a child who has issues to deal with but also the parent who is caring for a child with special needs.  We (parents of special needs kids) often have to go over our child’s issues again and again to make sure the teacher is aware on how to deal with certain things.

Each year is different, all teachers are unique. The teachers have so many children to deal with and the start of school is hectic. You want to make sure your child with special needs be placed in a classroom with a teacher that can handle and meet those needs. It isn’t fair to drop a bomb on them later, to only discover they have never dealt with a special needs child.

So each year I write a letter to all the teachers teaching the grade my son is going into. I do this to help the teachers make an informed decision on the best placement for my son, so he can get the most out of his education as possible. Trace is starting grade two this year and worried his teachers won’t understand him. But I told him, mommy’s letter will help.

Letter of Understanding…

Hello, Ms blank , Mrs blank and Ms blank , I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Jodi Shaw and I’m Trace Shaw’s mother.

Trace will be starting grade 2 this year, and I wanted to email all three of the grade 2 teachers to give you all a little insight to my son so you can best place him with one of you for the year.  Last year Trace has Mrs. blank, as I’m sure she will be able to give you some insights.
Trace is a great kid.  He’s helpful and sweet and cares about others. However that being said, Trace also has several serious issues that need to be addressed. 
Trace was born with mild Cerebral Palsy, which affects his legs when he gets tired, and his dexterity to do things with his hands sometimes. Sometimes he can’t run or walk long distances, he knows his limits and will usually let you know. Please trust him on this.
Trace has been a patient of Sunny Hill and Children’s Hospital since he was born. He’s been through the ringer with hospitals. He’s been diagnosed with early onset bipolar disorder and Sensory Disorder. I have information on my blog about these disorders if you need it which you can read here (blog link).
Last year Trace suffered several migraines which kept him either from school being hospitalized or in the classroom wearing sunglasses and head phones to block out the noise. Mrs. Thomas was amazing at handling these situations. His migraines cause him to throw up a lot and bright lights affect him at certain times.
Trace is not violent at all, so don’t be worried about being attacked at all. He just has issues at times, depending on how he handles things, with sensory stuff, too many people looking at him, too many people around him, problems with the bathroom (he goes a lot) and when he says he has to go please do let him go or accidents happen. 
Aids used for Trace to help him last year with Mrs. Thomas were sunglasses, head phones and a weighted vest. Not sure if this vest was the school’s or Mrs. Thomas’s that she purchased. We are working with variety to get Trace one that can be kept at the school for him.
Some days when Trace couldn’t handle things he went to the calm down room with a ball pit and stuff to help, Mrs. blank usually takes him or he opts to go himself. He only goes when he’s angry or upset. Again trust him on this, he knows himself very well and is very good at articulating his own needs.  Trace also works with Mrs. blank on social development through-out the year and we’d very much like to continue. 
As far as his learning development and education, Last year we were told Trace needed summer school for reading, which we laughed at. Trace can read, please do not let him fool you. His IQ has been test and he is off the charts for certain things, like math, language, reading but he hides behind it and sometimes plays as though he cannot do things as he says he wants to give his friends a chance and doesn’t want to appear smarter than others. Trace has no problems sounding out hard words or doing things. But will often say he can’t. Just a heads up. It’s his social skills and ability to understand proper social cues and proper behavior that he struggles with.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this. I thought this was better than explaining all this three times as it’s exhausting each year when school starts. Trace is not a great sleeper and you will find many days where he is late as mornings are quite difficult. But we are doing our best.
I’m open to any and all communication with whomever becomes Trace’s teacher this year. If you cannot reach me at home, please do not hesitate to email me. My plate is full in dealing with Trace as I’m also a part-time caregiver to Trace’s father Corey who has a severe TBI and my son Jake (Trace’s brother is starting high school this year). So bear with me if I don’t reply back right away.
Thanks again for allowing me to tell you about my son. I look forward to a new school year and working with you to help my son get the best educational experience he can. 
Jodi Shaw 
I find sending a letter to the teachers, which often teachers emails can be found on the school district website or school homepage, helps them to understand not only what I’m dealing with but my son and his needs.  This goes a long way to building a great relationship with your child’s teacher so the school year can be fun!

How do you prepare your child’s teacher in dealing with your child’s special needs?

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