I have recently talked with a few parents with younger autistic children and they asked how I handled IEP’s and teachers that were not informed about autism. Another topic that interested them was my experience with my daughters fixations, desires and wants. So I guess I’ll try to explain what my daughter’s mother and I tried to do for her.
Remember one very important thing and that is that all children are different, so as parents we try different things all the time. As far as the IEP’s go, learn what the federal government requires the school system to provide and also what your state and county require. But you as a parent, you know what your child needs. If you have a connection with your child’s current teacher ask her or him to be at your next IEP meeting and ask them to recommend a teacher for the next school year. That helped us out a lot, because we needed a teacher that would work with us and let us know what we needed to do to help our daughter at home. Her mom did a great job at home.
My daughter has had, and still has, her fixations which change from time to time. They were used to help her learn. We would take her to the library and get as many books that covered that subject and early on read them to her. When she was able to read, she did so. She has become my source of many different topics and has now become my teacher (I have hated reading all my life, but know how important it is to learning). Use their fixations to help them learn.
Most importantly, never tell a child or let anyone else tell them that they can not achieve something they want to do.My daughter was always told that she could accomplish anything she wanted but she needed to know that she might not be able to do it as good, or as easy, or as quickly as someone else. Because we are individuals and as such do things and accomplished things differently. If you tell someone over and over that they can’t do something, sooner or later they will believe it and stop trying. That applies to handicapped and non-handicapped individuals. Encourage, guide and assist them in whatever way you can.
Your child will find out on their own what they can or can’t do, so let them. One example that I’ll share with you: my daughter wanted to learn to drive and that one was hard for me. I told her that I would teach her, if and only if, she was able to focus totally on driving. Whenever she was with me, I would point out other drivers mistakes and what could happen in an accident. I would also teach her to drive on the property to be used for the group home, I had already cut in some roads although rough, they would do. I have to say that on days that she was able to stay focused, she did rather well. But when she could not focus, she didn’t. After almost two years, she told me that she didn’t want to drive because she knew that she couldn’t stay focused all the time. She said that she didn’t want to hurt anyone while driving unfocused. She is a great kid (almost 31).
One last thing, You are your child’s best teacher but also they can be your best teacher. Learn from each other and teach each other. Have fun and enjoy whatever you do together.