How to advocate for your autistic child at school

Unfortunately, an autism diagnosis isn’t the end of the journey when it comes to advocating for your child. You have done extremely well to get to where you have already but now you need to use the diagnosis to ensure you get the help that your child needs, whether that is in school or within any other educational setting. Here are some tips to help you advocate effectively for your child.

Know what your child needs and be prepared

You are already the expert on your child’s needs within your home, but you do need to thoroughly understand their needs even when you can’t be with them, such as while they are at school. Understand your child’s autism as best as you can and how best practice dictates they can be better supported at school. You should also make sure you know all of the services and rights that are available to you and your child, as you might well need to ask for them before they are offered to you.

Keep your child at the centre of all negotiations

You are the best advocate for your child because you are the only person who is truly focused on them – your only agenda is ensuring they receive the support they need. Talks with teachers and support staff can become heated, but you will make more progress if you ensure your child and their needs remain at the centre of any discussions.

Become an effective communicator

Effective communication in this instance isn’t just about how well you can speak or your body language. All too often, talks with a school can be emotive for a parent struggling with managing their child’s needs. Learn to focus specifically on what your child needs now and try and get this across to those who care for them in your absence in a succinct manner. Look to the future for your child and try not to focus on past mistakes. Don’t be afraid to terminate a meeting that is heading in a negative direction – it is better to try and maintain professional relationships at all times. Discussions can always be picked up again when everyone is calmer.

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