Good evening, everyone. Speech-language pathologist (SLP)/momma here. This is for those of you who has a child with unique needs and they will be entering school for the first time, or they have been attending school, but will soon begin entering the regular education classroom throughout the day. If you’re a teacher and anticipate having a student that fits this description, please read on!
The main purpose of this post is to provide you with actions you can take to make your child’s transition go as smoothly as possible. To put it simply, it’s all about introducing your child to their new classmates and teacher in a way that showcases your child’s strengths and characteristics that other children can relate to.
What I’m going to show you today, is how to setup and make a simple book that you or your child’s teacher can read to your child’s class in order to help the other children get to know your child better.
You may be worried that some of the children will comment on your child’s differences, thus, making your child feel self-conscious and/or alienated. Children are naturally curious. Many times, especially with younger ones, comments and questions are often made as observations and not as insults.
Below are some examples of questions children may ask. Please know that I mean no offense in regards to the nature of the questions – I asked some questions I have heard other children ask, as well as tried to put myself in the shoes of a curious child when I was developing the example questions below. Not all of the questions will apply to your child – this is just to serve as a general guide.
Step #1 – Deciding What Should Go in the Book
- Make a list of questions other children are likely to have about your child. Use some of the example questions below to guide your list development.
Example: Your child has mild-moderate spastic cerebral palsy.
Why is he/she in a wheelchair?
Do his/her legs work?
Why do they talk like that?
Why do they move their arms like that?
Can he/she understand me?
Do they like to play games?
Does he/she like video games?
Does he/she play?
Example: Your child has non-verbal autism.Why don’t they talk?
Why doesn’t he/she want to play with me?
Why do they hold their hand over their mouth and nose in the lunch room?
Why do they not like the gym?
Why do they take toys out of my hand when it’s not their turn?
Why do they have a special teacher with them?
What do they like to play?
Can they understand what I say?
Why do they not sit on the rug with us?
Why do they scream?
Why do they wash their hands so much?
Example: Your child’s speech is very difficult to understand.
Why do they talk like that?
Why do they not like to talk?
What is their favorite color?
What is their favorite food?
What toys and games do they like to play with?
Are they always going to talk like that?
Step #2 – Choosing Pictures
- Find or take some pictures that go along with each question you want to answer in the book.
Step #3 – Download a Book Template
- I created a mock story at https://www.autismspeaks.org/templates-personalized-teaching-stories
It was very easy, ya’ll! And it’s FREE!!! I went to the website and underneath “Personalized Stories,” they had a list of templates. I clicked on one, deleted the existing text and pictures and put my own information in. I am NOT tech savvy, but I can operate PowerPoint, which is the program the template was created in. You can see the story I created here: Elaina’s Classroom Story
I used my daughter’s picture, but the rest is fictitious.
Step #4 – Involve Your Child in the Process
There may be things that your child specifically wants to include in that book. I know in every case it is not feasible to ask your child what they would like to include in the book; you know your child better than anyone else ever will. Put yourself in their shoes during the book development.
I hope everyone finds something in here that is helpful. If you do not see something that relates to your child, please leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com and I will do my best to create a post, no names mentioned of course, that will hopefully help your child.
This article was written by a speech-language pathologist, but is not meant to replace a speech-language evaluation or speech-language therapy. If your child is already receiving speech-language therapy at this time, please continue to work on improving your child’s communication at home. Therapy is so much more effective when we all work together with the same goal in mind!