Is Your Child Ready?!

As a parent, it can be very difficult to know when and how much to let go; sometimes we just have to take an educated guess.

Now I have to say something that is almost in direct contradiction to a previous post here…because parents have roles that ARE contradictory: we have to be firm yet flexible, structured yet loose.  Parents of children with differing abilities—Autism Spectrum Disorder, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, ADHD, or another disability—are continually striving to teach their children to be as independent as possible.  Children and youth with an Individual Education Program (IEP) can certainly have functional goals included in the IEP; however, it is really up to parents and families to teach life skills. Many high school students are in school only 36% of the time that they’re awake per week…which leaves the other 64% of awake time away from school.

As the parent of a 17 year old son with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, a senior in high school, I made the conscious decision this fall to taper off my support for him at school.  For the first time in nine years, I did not communicate with his special education teacher or his regular education teachers prior to the beginning of classes.  I did not schedule a tour of his classes before school started.  Most importantly, I did NOT meet with his teachers in advance.  I know this is good practice for him—but, I have to say, I was pretty nervous!  I had to hope that the first day and the first week would be smooth.  If they weren’t, I wouldn’t know (my son does not tell me what happens at school—even if there is a tornado warning).  I also knew that this last year of high school is his/our practice for college.

This has been a gradual process, with increasing responsibilities for him as he matures and develops.  He now communicates with his teachers (verbally or by email)—especially to clarify assignment due dates.  When I do meet with teachers, he is always present.  I make sure to address my questions to him first, and then to the teachers; this also indicates to teachers that they should ask him the questions and not me.  In the past, I have always provided a copy of his IEP accommodations to his teachers as part of the initial contact (but not this time).  I did meet with his teachers after two weeks; he explained his disability to them very articulately—also good practice for life after high school and/or college.  I discovered that his high school teachers still had not seen his IEP after two weeks of school.

This has been a very enlightening process:  my son was fine without me.    As a parent, it can be very difficult to know when and how much to let go; sometimes we just have to take an educated guess.  What is YOUR child/youth/young adult ready to handle?

At Autism Parenting Solutions, we are able to help parents and professionals provide the necessary supports while encouraging independence.  Contact us at www.AutismParentingSolutions.com for assistance!

We hope you find these tips helpful.  Subscribe to our blog for more useful hints; “like” us on Facebook for even more information and practical solutions.

Written by Lisa Townsend

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