How to advocate for your child’s Dyslexia or ADHD
A 5-step guide to ensuring every school year is a successful one
Such anxiety and apprehension is unsurprising, in light of the absence of resources available to parents explaining how to foster a postive and constructive relationship with their child’s school.
We know how hard fought the creation of constructive relationships with teachers and advocates in your school environment can be.
The good news is: Working collaboratively and constructively with the school throughout the year is both possible and the key to protecting your child’s interests.
The even better news is: This can be done in the 5 steps we have outlined below.
These steps nurture a mutual trust and respect between parent and school, enabling the positive learning and wellbeing outcomes your child deserves in 2017 and beyond.
Step. 1 – Set up a Meeting
Call the school prior as close to the start of a term as possible and ask for a meeting to be set up with yourself and as many of the following people as possible and necessary.
- The Head of School
- The Head of Learning Support
- The School Psychologist
- Your child’s classroom teacher (most important!)
- Any other key people, internally and externally, you know may be needed to support your child.
While this may seem overwhelming, good educators realise these meetings are a crucial and proactive way of ensuring tailored strategies are in place for children with special needs like dyslexia and ADHD. Before the meeting, be clear on what you want to achieve and what you would like to discuss by following the ensuing steps (bring the list below to the meeting if you need).
Step 2: Share a Summary of your Child
While the school will likely be aware if your child has dyslexia, ADHD or other special needs, it is important to provide a more general summary of your child. Ensure to:
- Include their likes and dislikes;
- Include their classroom strengths and areas of difficulty; and
- Keep these points short and sharp
For example: My child is very sociable, a great listener, has good comprehension and is personable. My child is particularly shy, has some social difficulties, finds it hard to relate to others, is tentative with new adults and doesn’t talk easily or like to be put on the spot. My child loves animals and has special interest in dinosaurs. My child dislikes loud noises or attention drawn to them.
Step 3: Share Any Professionally Suggested Strategies
It is important to be armed with information, so bring as much as you can about previous strategies suggested by relevant professionals.
You will find these professional strategies listed in all formal diagnostic assessments for dyslexia and/or ADHD.
Tip: Summarise the strategies and give this shorthand list to the school coupled with the whole report, as opposed to the report on its own.
This step is particularly important as it helps to negotiate what reasonable accommodation looks like for your child within the context of their school environment. Always remember that YOU the parent know your child and their needs best. You are their voice and you must be clear and direct in your realistic expectations of the school.
Through an open and constructive dialogue the school will be able to explain what they can accommodate and where additional support may be required on your end. You can then move forward with a mutual understanding of exactly what is and isn’t possible for your child.
For example: The Occupational Therapist may suggest that your child needs to be seated in a particular way and with a slant board or pencil grips. The school may supply the pencil grips and ask you to purchase the slant board.
Step 4: List Successful & Unsuccessful Classroom Strategies
Compile a comprehensive list of classroom strategies that have and haven’t worked in previous years and include reasons why. There is no need to start from zero every year and much progress can be made, and frustration avoided, by ensuring that strong communication exists from the start.
Ask that this list be shared with all the teachers who will be working with your child.
For example: My child needs to sit near the front. The teacher needs to put sticky notes with dot points on the desk to guide them through tasks as they need a visual plan with only three instructions at a time. This particular reward system has worked well for my child in the past.
Step 5: Be Proactive
Set up a regular drumbeat meeting for the rest of the school year ahead, to make certain that progress can be carefully monitored. This ensures dyslexia, ADHD or any other learning disability is addressed adequately requires ongoing reinforcement and evaluation.
Bonus Step: Be Positive
Be gracious and appreciative of all that has been set up. A strong team working towards a shared goal can only lead to positive results and outcomes!
Want More? Sign up for our FREE 5 Day Advocacy E-Course if you’d like to learn:
Why being an advocate for you child is so important (and why you are the perfect person for the job!)
How to work out the next logical step to take in advocating for your child.
How to avoid key advocacy pitfalls.
How to create an effective summary of your child to share with their school & teachers.
The answers to your most FAQs in regards to advocacy.
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