Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This Years Letter

This is this years teacher letter, updated and edited hopefully to help for the year. I leave out IEP info because teachers can read that themselves and I don't want to start the year off seeming like I think they don't read it. I also leave out any medical descriptions of any of our dx's. I assume they know what autism is and if they don't they can always ask. I always felt it was patronizing when someone would start explaining autism to me. Yes please tell me about your autism, yourself, your child, but leave out all the medical stuff. When I was in the schools if I didn't know what something was I would ask or go look it up, so I always assume and give the teachers respect that they are professionals. I do tell them about my child though, that's where I'm the professional.

Dear Teacher,
We have set up this form letter to give to every teacher to help them better understand our son, Roger.  His IEP has all his testing and the education plan so I will stick to some things you may experience with him.   Roger has been diagnosed with autistic disorder.  The co-existing conditions that Roger has are: Sensory Processing Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Anxiety, Executive Functioning Disorder, a movement disorder, as well as a history of what we believe are absence seizures.   I just wanted to let you know a little more about him in writing and it’s easier than verbally trying to explain it all.

While these issues are complex, you probably won’t be able to tell anything is different, at least for a while.

Roger is a very smart child that pays attention to very small details and can get “lost” in the shuffle of daily activities.  Working together as a team with open and frequent communication is the key to helping Roger manage himself and find his place.

We have been working with Roger to develop self-help and coping techniques so that he can manage the over-stimulating and confusing world around him. This year we are hoping he begins to use some of the self advocating skills we have worked on, such as asking for help, knowing when he is overwhelmed and asking to leave to regain composure, and asking for clarification on directions.

Some of the things we have found that help Roger are:

One of the challenges with his auditory processing disorder is sometimes he does not always hear what was said to him.  Visual Cues are key:  Charts, Outlines, Graphics (Visual will always work better than auditory).  He will have a folder for each class, inside of it I will place a checklist for him to look at to help him remember what supplies to bring to class. He will also jump into following directions as he thinks it should be done. A example from home is emptying the dishwasher, if he is told to empty the dishwasher he will, but he will not look to see if they are clean, so he will do as he was told empty the dishwasher but skip looking to see if they are clean first.

With The executive function disorder Roger has almost no organization. In the past, he would often forget his belongings and then later would “melt-down” over forgetting something.  He is determined this year not to improve on this.  Roger almost never relays information to me about his day and would never remember verbal instructions to be told later, using a planner has been a struggle for Roger.  He doesn’t know what to write down or how to write it down. We have found that by using technology such as his iPad he can place reminders in and use the alarms to remind him about important assignments. If he gets behind on assignments which he has done I ask that I am notified immediately preferably by email.  If I know about it at the start I can assist him in getting back on track before it snowballs into something that overwhelms him.

With the sensory processing disorder little things in the environment will distract him.  He does not have problems with the loud noises it is the little noises that affect him.  An example is the sound of pencils on paper. When the environment becomes too much sometimes he needs a short break to clear his head.

Some things you may notice are Roger has a few what we call tics.  He constantly has small movements, tapping legs, moving arms, and some facial and head tics at times.  He cannot control these movements and when they are pointed out they become worse as he tries to control them.  When he gets anxious or frustrated these movements also become more noticeable.  There have been a few occasions that this has looked like a seizure.  He has had extensive testing and does not have a seizure disorder it is just anxiety.  Usually removing him from the situation for a few minutes will calm him down and help him to regain his composure. Again the best response is to allow him to leave the room and regain his composure.

While he does not have a seizure disorder he does have a history of what may be absence seizures.  There are no movements with these. More often than not he will just have a blank stare, if he is speaking during on his speech will slur.  They are very quick and often not noticed by anyone around. Rarely he will get a headache after a episode and become very tired.
Roger is a very mild mannered boy and won’t cause any trouble in class.  He is shy at first and then he becomes very entertaining the more he opens up to people.  School can be difficult for him. Especially the social aspect of it.
We appreciate your willingness to educate our son.  We are looking forward to working with all of you and having a great school year this year.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or if any problems that arise.

My Name
Phone number and email address

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