Back to School with Your Special Needs Child

September 12, 2013 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

Back to school time has rolled around again and it's time to prepare your special needs child for the school year. In my post about goal-setting, I shared how Bob created his own goal and made a plan (with my help) to get it done. But, I'd also like to share some tips on how to get your special needs child ready for a successful school year.

By now, new school clothes and supplies have been purchased. Shiny new book bags, unused pencils and folders with favorite characters picked out. But, have you prepared for any issues at school? Here's how you can get started with your back to school plans:

Express concerns

Talk with your child to discuss any worries you both may have about the school year. This is the time to talk about the good things from the previous year to repeat (to boost your child's self-esteem) and the not-so-good things that happened as well. Together, you can choose goals and create a plan to achieve them.

Meet your child's new teacher

One of the most important partners you can have during the school year is your child's teacher. Request a meeting early in the year to talk about your child's needs and expectations in the classroom. If your child is old enough, after meeting separately with the teacher, have your child join in to talk about any concerns in advance. This way the three of you can create a plan with input from everyone. Don't forget to include any other service providers in this meeting (speech/physical/occupational, etc).

Make a go-to plan

Work with your child to talk about what he/she can do in the event of a problem. Make a list of people that your child can speak with - teacher, counselor, principal, then you. Try a role-play to practice. You can help your child feel more secure and ease your own peace of mind about the classroom.

Send your child off with positivity

Back to school can be hard when you worry. I have a very hard time being positive because I worry so much about Bob. There are so many things I want him to remember (because of the ADHD) and fear he'll forget. Too help your child go to school in a good mood - project positive energy. Wish your child a great school day and it can go a long way.

Check in with your child regularly

I like hearing about Bob's day. When he's really excited, he's more inclined to share. On the days he doesn't, I ask about it. Just today, I asked Bob about his day. He shared that there were some new kids in the class and it became an opportunity to teach Bob about welcoming others.

Hopefully, you've started some of this back to school preparation. If not, there's still time. The school year's still new. Here's to the new school year!

photo credit: Avolore via photopin cc

APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2013, September 12). Back to School with Your Special Needs Child, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

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