Thursday, August 5, 2010

Starting the school year off on the right foot

I recently attended a training session on IEP's put on by the PEAK Parent Center and I had a big "ah-ha" moment. I realized that too often when I approach a person who will be working with my son, I basically start with the laundry list of challenges that he has or the negative side of his ADHD and basically give them the impression that my child has alot of issues and problems. If I was my son's teacher, I would be dreading having him in my class and assume that he is going to be a problem child. I have sabotaged him so many times without even realizing what I was doing. I guess I just thought it better that the teacher know everything so they can respond appropriately to help him. During this training, the speaker asked what we would tell other people about our best friend? Would we talk about all the bad qualities of our friend? NO! We would talk about all the good qualities of our friend and so we should do the same about our children.

I decided to put together a "Profile" for my son with ADHD. This is a concept that I had read about last year in an article in the CHADD Magazine, where you give your child's new teacher something that helps them to get to know your child better and states what works well for them.

The point of the "Student Profile" is to give the teachers a proper view of all of our child's strengths and then positively state effective strategies for the areas where they need help. What a difference that might make in our children's school lives if we begin to approach things in this manner! So I would like to share with you the "Profile" I put together and have given to my son's teacher.

At the top of the one-page Profile you can include information like your child's name, age, grade, date of birth. Names of the parents and siblings. Any basic information that the teacher might find helpful.


Areas of Student Strength/Interest:
- Andrew is friendly and outgoing and has a great sense of humor. He is intuitive and enjoys helping others. He makes friends easily and loves to be part of a group. He values strong relationships with adults.
- Andrew is very bright and typically scores high on assessments. He enjoys a good challenge and friendly competition. He works well with a schedule and warnings for transitions.
- Andrew knows a lot about dinosaurs and animals. He loves the outdoors, camping, fishing, and anything related to nature. He takes very good care of our garden at home.
- Andrew loves science and hands on experiments. He likes to understand how things work.
- Andrew is very creative and loves to tell stories.

Successful Learning Strategies/Modifications/Accommodations Needed:
- Planner & Homework reminders help ensure that work is completed and handed in on time.
- Transition warnings are helpful when moving from one task to another.
- Have students work in pairs or groups when possible.
- Use peer supports.
- Give subtle cues & reminders to maintain focus: touch shoulder, gentle tap on desk, ask him a question.
- Ask him to be a helper with the class assignment or another student.
- Give him time to calm himself when frustrated or upset.
- Have him restate the objective of an assignment.
- Wait 10-15 seconds after giving a direction before repeating and use touch the second time.
- Give movement/heavy lifting breaks when needed – errands (box of books) to the office, library, other teachers, etc.
- Allow him to take tests first thing in the morning.

Communication Strategies:
- Email works best for communication, phone calls are always welcome. Frequency based on an as needed basis – recommend at least once a week to ensure that Andrew is being successful.
- Andrew is most responsive to parental coaching when he can remember what happened and we prefer to talk to him that same day.

Positive Behavior Support Strategies:
- Andrew responds well to a token rewards system and parents are willing to provide rewards and motivation as needed.
- Encouragement and positive praise in the same way as given to others.
- Springs Ranch Psychologist had lunch with him once a week to check in with him and reinforce his successes and provided guidance in challenging areas.

Grading and Assessment Accommodations:
- Andrew sometimes needs extra time for classroom tests and CSAP testing.

Important Family/Health Information:
- Andrew has food sensitivities to gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, citrus, garlic, almonds. These are NOT anaphylactic type reactions, but can cause an upset stomach, and behavior issues.
- We enjoy spending time together as a family going on bike rides, camping, fishing, watching movies, playing games, and always try to eat dinner together each night.


Football and Fried Rice said...

Wow. What a fabulous idea! Really, this would be a good idea for ALL teachers to know about ALl students. Unfortunately, most parents wouldn't put the time in - what a great way to "share" your son! Miss you!!

SuperLittleMen said...

You are so right, I do the same and hadnt even realised it, I tell the teachers (or anyone that he is going to) all the bad things and not the good things. Its a brilliant concept putting a profile together like this and definately something I will be doing this weekend. we should be shouting about their strengths and the little person we see.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this idea!!! ANd that is so true in Sunday school Andrew is a fantastic helper! He has such great insight too! Have a fabulous school year - and thanks for the encouragement!!

feMOMhist said...

this is FAB. fMHson starts school in a few weeks and while I know his IEP accurately reflects his abilities and areas of development, I also struggle with feeling like my child is viewed as aberrant or troubled. I often find it hard to explain to him why things are as they are with him without recourse to such words as "different, normal, problem etc."

I'm going to start right now!

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent idea. I'm going to start on one for both of my children right now. Especially timely as they are going to a new school this fall.

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