You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘back to school’ tag.


It’s that time of year again, well according to the stores it was that time in June. It’s back to school shopping time. It seems like every year the list of supplies gets longer and longer. It can feel like you’re buying enough pencils and notebooks for the entire school. Add backpacks, clothes, and sneakers to the list and you could easily spend several hundred dollars per child. Being the frugal person I am, that’s simply unacceptable to me.

Here are five strategies I use to keep our back to school costs under control.

1. Do A Thorough Inventory – The first order of business to keep clutter at bay and money in our bank account is to take a thorough inventory of what we already have before even thinking of shopping.

This means going through everything in my kids’ closets and dressers. I have them try each item on and inspect for fit and any stains or rips. Anything that doesn’t fit I donate or throw away depending on its condition. Anything ripped or stained gets set aside for play clothes. Now that you can plainly see what usable clothes your kids have, you can start your list of what items your children truly need. This way you don’t waste money on shirts for a child that’s fully stocked on shirts, but needs pants or buy pants for the child that has plenty.

If you’re especially frugal like me, you might already have a stockpile of school supplies as well from sales the previous year. I also go through the items that came back from school with them at the end of the year like scissors and folders that aren’t damaged and cross those off the list. I often stock up on tissues when they are on are sale and I have coupons and put them in the closet for back to school when each child in my district is required to provide three boxes.

2. Don’t Shop All At Once – I know this might sound counter-intuitive. I mean who wants to go to multiple stores when you can just go to one place and be done with it. Well, if you want to take full advantage of the amazing loss leaders (items reduced to a great price to get you in the store to buy more expensive items) from each store I’d suggest doing a little at a time. It also feels more comfortable to spend small amounts over the course of a month than to drop several hundred dollars in a few days. Shopping over time means being more strategic with your time and money.

School Supplies

So far I’ve found some pretty great deals at ShopRite like composition notebooks and 12 packs of pencils for .50 each. My fantastic finds at Staples include three packs of erasers for .25 each and single subject notebooks for .17 each. Since both stores happen to be next to each other, it was easy enough to walk between the two and get only the items with the best prices from each store.

3. Shop Online – I really hate driving to the mall and searching through a dozen stores to find what I’m looking for at a great price. Instead I save some of my shopping for the comfort of my home. I get my kids book bags and shoes online. No worries, they can be returned if there is a problem. You can start your shopping with a free $10 gift card by signing up at Ebates and get a percentage of cash back depending on the store you choose to shop at.

Do a quick search for promotional coupons and use them at check out to save more money. You can also qualify for free shipping if you meet a certain dollar amount or are willing to wait a little longer for your items. Many sites like Amazon and K-mart also have memberships where you get free shipping. Just remember to cancel your trial membership after you use it or you could get charged the yearly fee. K-mart also has Shop Your Way points you can earn on each purchase and they also have coupons on their site you can choose from and apply at checkout.

Sign up for the newsletters of stores you love. Because of special e-mails I’ve been able to take advantage of one-day online sales that save me 15% or more on things I would already need to buy for my kids. Both last year and this year I was able to get two pairs of shoes for my daughter (sneakers and dress shoes) and sneakers for my son for about $40 total thanks to these special e-mails.

4. Buy Used – I’ve been frugal for so long now I actually hate buying new clothes, especially for kids who are bound to outgrow, stain, or rip them fairly quickly. I love to shop at consignment shops and sales. They have a children’s Be Green sale twice a year in Fishkill where I do almost all my clothing shopping for the kids. They have clothes and shoes in great condition, as well as Halloween costumes, coats and snow pants, boots, and special occasion dresses and suits. Between the two sales I can usually get most of my kids’ clothes for $100 per child for the entire year.

You can also take those clothes that are in good condition but don’t fit, which you inventoried already and get store credit at most consignment shops. You can also check for special bag sales and discount days to stretch your clothing budget even further. The Salvation Army in Middletown has family day on Wednesdays and most items are half off. Check for local children’s consignment stores in your area. Like them on Facebook and sign up for their newsletters so you don’t miss their sale days.

5. Buy Off Season – We do buy our kids three new outfits for the first week of school, which always starts on a Wednesday in my district. To make sure we don’t spend too much we check for end of summer clearance sales. Since early September is still pretty hot you can get dresses, shorts and short sleeve shirts for good prices.

I typically buy my kids’ backpacks for the following year in November or Early December and they get them for Christmas. They are usually a great deal. I’ve gotten them as low as $5.

With these strategies in place, you save money on all the supplies and clothes your kids need to start the school year. What are your favorite money-saving strategies?

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

Back To SchoolTraditions

The new school year is officially twenty days away from today. I am ready with all of our school supplies, back up supplies, lunch menus and first day of school outfits. Every year I print out a fun little photo prop for my girls to hold while I take their picture in front of their new school. This year they begin elementary school and it feels more official, like I should do something a little bigger. This is after all the beginning of a greater adventure.

I asked around in some of my local moms groups for ideas on back to school, or first day of school traditions. It turns out everyone has something special they repeat every September to celebrate the start of a new school year, including homeschooling families. Here is my round up of back to school traditions.


Start off the day on a hearty note by serving a special breakfast. Maybe save the cereal for day two and serve pancake sundaes, or fruit and scrambled eggs arranged as a smiley face on the plate. It’s a fun way to start off the day and adds a little extra love to your morning before everyone heads out the door.


I leave the kids a special note in their lunch boxes all year, but they only had lunch at preschool two days a week. Perhaps a note a day for the first week will give the kids a little extra boost of confidence during the transition back to the school day demands.


It sounds so cliché to have fresh baked cookies and milk waiting for your child when they get off the bus. But it turns out it’s a very popular practice, at least on the first day of school. Several moms share they make a special cake shaped like a school bus, or cupcakes shaped like apples. In general the popular choice is to celebrate with a special after school treat.


Let the kiddos pick the spot for a special picnic, or a favorite restaurant for dinner. One friend of mine allows her kids to eat ice cream for dinner on the first and last day of the school year.  If serving dessert for dinner is not your thing, perhaps an upside down dinner works. That’s eating dessert first, then dinner.


Some families take a photo every year in the same spot in front of the house, or a special tree. Something they can mark year after year to show how much their child has grown or changed. Maybe take a picture of your child holding a sign with the date, their age and name of school. You could take a last day of school picture in the same outfit to compare the changes.


The night before starting school can make kids feel anxious and maybe a little excited. Reading a special book before bedtime might help ease those feelings. One mom recommends, “The Kissing Hand” which portrays a young raccoon too afraid to go to school because he will miss his mom too much. My kids enjoy this story so much we give Kissing Hands on the regular. Another couple of our favorites: “Are You Ready for Kindergarten Stinky Face?” and “Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten.”


For families choosing to homeschool, the hoopla of the back to school rush may feel a bit empty for them. Each family is different and may choose to create traditions of their own, or they may not celebrate it at all. Here is what some local mama’s who homeschool shared:


Several moms shared they celebrate with a special activity, or picnic to mark the transition from the summer routine to the academic routine. They may gather together with several other families for a community picnic or a special party to celebrate.


Spending the day eating their favorite foods, or making a special meal together helps some families observe the new school year.


Since most homeschool families are not locked into a hard start date on the calendar, some families have the chance to take late summer trip to ease into the change of season. One mom says it’s nice to take advantage of the shortage of crowds with school aged children back at school.

Some moms don’t celebrate the new school year at all. They actually miss their kids leaving them each day. I for one am willing to see what all the fuss is about by missing my kids. *wink* I love my girls and I know I will miss them, but they are so excited to start school and begin their journey as big kids. It is my joy in watching their excitement that makes this next milestone one to celebrate.

How do you celebrate the new school year?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

I remember the cliques that were formed by the girls  when I was in elementary school. Luckily, the worst thing they did was kick me out of their “Spice Girl” group. Overnight my dreams of becoming the next “Ginger Spice” were crushed.  But, girls can be ruthless with their teasing and it can be hard for children to confront their bullies. This article gives parents some tips on how to deal with a bully situation. Whether your child is the bully’s target, is the bully, or you know of a friend’s child who is being bullied, this article is a must read before the school year begins.

 Patricia S. Phelan runs The Law Office of Patricia S. Phelan – a practice dedicated exclusively to the field of special education law and advocacy.  Ms. Phelan has been practicing law for eighteen years and is an experienced litigator as well as a parent of a child with a disability.  For guidance about your child’s rights under the law, please contact Ms. Phelan by email at or telephone at 845-398-3273.  For more information about The Law Office of Patricia S. Phelan, go to

 For any parent, a child’s return to school is exciting – new classes, new friends and new teachers. For the parent of a child with special needs, it involves much more. As special education parents, you must read and understand your child’s new “Individualized Education Program,” or “IEP.” You also need to collect and keep your child’s educational records organized.  Finally, you must help new staff working with your child understand your child’s strengths and needs — particularly in this time of transition.  This four-part series is intended to help make the new school year easier and more successful for both you and your child.  

PART ONE   Required Summer Reading:  Your Child’s IEP

By the time school begins, you should already have a copy of your child’s IEP. It probably came in your mail, shortly after the IEP meeting.  That could have been as early as last spring.Dig it out!  In order to help your child, you need to read and understand the plan and make sure it is accurate.When you first look at it, the IEP seems long, technical and confusing.Don’t let that stop you! Read on. It is a must for your child’s success in school. IEP Background As you begin, here are a few things to think about:

  • The best IEPs are created when parents and the school district work together.
  • As a parent, you have the right to be at your child’s IEP meeting. You also have the right to be included in making decisions. You are part of the special education team.
  • In the best of circumstances, you worked with the group that drafted this year’s IEP. No matter what, you have a part to play through the rest of the school year. Keep this in mind as you read your child’s IEP.
  • It is your job to work with the teachers.
  • It is also your job to make sure the school district gives your child what is promised in the IEP.
  • As your child grows, you must look at whether your child needs change. You must help the school understand your child’s changing special needs.

 What is an IEP? The IEP is like a roadmap guiding your child’s education. It explains for you and the district what special education programs and services your child is to receive. The IEP also outlines the goals your child must try to achieve.It is important to understand from the IEP what services your child is not getting. If you believe your child needs or is entitled to services he or she is not getting, there are steps you can take. One of the IEP’s functions is to help you hold the school district responsible. The law says the school district must provide the services – and work on the goals – that are stated in the plan.Also, by reading the IEP, teachers can learn about a new student. For this reason, it must be accurate and complete – and it must show your child’s strengths and needs.  Read Your Child’s IEP It can be hard for parents to read an IEP. It will likely stir up your emotions.  It also follows a form most people do not recognize and uses unfamiliar language. But the properly prepared IEP actually is a very well organized document that you can learn to understand.How the IEP looks changes by state. Some states, such as New York, have a “Model Form”.  A school district can use this sample to help the team create an IEP.  Other states, like Maryland, have a state IEP.  All districts in the state must use this form to create a child’s IEP.  New York seems to be headed in that direction as well.  Current state law in New York specifies that all “IEPs developed on or after January 1, 2009 shall be on a form prescribed by the Commissioner.”  [8 NYCRR §200.4(d)(2)]Finally, many states, including California and Texas, have no form IEP at all.  School Districts in these states are free to create their own IEP as long as it complies with Federal Law.  The U.S. Department of Education has created a Federal Model IEP.  It is called the “Model Form:  Individualized Education Program”. 

When writing an IEP, all school districts must include the sections of this sample form.   Let’s walk through the sections of the Federal Model one by one:  

  • Present Levels of Academic Achievement, Functional Performance and Individual Needs

This section tells you how your child is doing now. This is referred to as present levels of performance, or PLOPS. It looks at how your child is doing in four areas: academic, social, physical, and management needs (supports needed to help your child learn).  If appropriate, this section also explains why your child’s performance does not allow him or her to learn in a regular education classroom.  

  • Measurable Annual Goals

This section lists the annual goals to help meet your child’s individual needs. You will also get related information, such as which teacher will let you know how your child is doing on meeting each goal, and when.       IF your child is not going to take the same State tests that regular education children take, your child’s IEP should also list short-term objectives known as “benchmarks”.    

  • Reporting Progress To Parents

The IEP also explains how your child’s progress will be measured. This section also states how often and in what way your child’s progress will be reported to you – such as in quarterly reports, in addition to report cards.  

  • Recommended Special Education Programs and Services

In this section, the team lists all of the special education programs and related services (e.g. speech therapy) your child will receive. It also lists many other details about the services – including the ratio of children to staff, how often the services will occur, how long they will last, and where they will be provided.Under the law, if your child needs any special help, the help can be written into the IEP. The IEP will also list any supports that your child’s teachers may need to help them teach your child. A description of these aids, services, supports and modifications are also listed in this section. This section also talks about help for your child related to tests.  If your child is not going to take the same State tests that regular education children take, this section will explain why.  Also, this section will explain any testing accommodations your child may need.  These may include extra time, having the directions or questions read, and using a less distracting testing place.Remember that the law says your child should be able to go to a regular education program with children who do not have special needs, if that is possible. This section of the IEP explains what part of the day, if any, your child will not be part of the regular education program, due to his or her disability.   

  • Issues For Older Children With IEPS

Part of the purpose of the Federal special education law is to help children prepare for their future education, employment and independent living needs.  Therefore, by the time your child turns 16 years old (and younger, if necessary), Federal law requires that the IEP have long term, “postsecondary” goals.  It also must explain what transition services your child needs to meet these goals.  Some states require the IEP to include these goals even earlier – such as NY (age 15) and MD (age 14).By the time your child is one year away from the age of majority in your state, the child’s IEP must also state that your child was told his rights under the law that will impact him once he reaches the age of majority.            

While not part of the Federal Model IEP, IEPs developed in New York State will also include this additional information:  

  • Student and Guardian Information

The IEP will have a section which provides general contact information about you and your child and warns the teachers about allergies.  

  • Recommended Classification and Placement Information

The IEP will probably have a section which explains some basic facts about the IEP meeting. These include when the meeting was held and what the team decided. To get special education services, your child must have a disability that adversely affects his or her educational performance.  At some point, the IEP team will likely give your child a label.  This is known as a “classification”. Possible classifications include “speech or language impairment,” “learning disability,” and “autism.” If your child is younger than five, the team will label your child “preschool child with a disability.” The team identifies the classification in this section of the IEP.  Remember that even if the team has not yet given your child a label, the school can still start special education services as long as your child has a disability and needs special education as a result.   This section also tells you when the IEP starts and ends. It states whether your child can get special services for 12 months of the year, rather than just during the school year. (This is called “Extended School Year.”)In addition, it is the place to learn whether the team has recommended any special help with driving your child to and from school. Finally, this section of the IEP tells you the date your child will have a complete re-evaluation. Your child must have this complete testing at least once every three years. It is called a “triennial.” Your son or daughter will get a more general review every year.

  • Committee Meeting or Agreement Information

The IEP also explains when the meeting(s) occurred and who attended each one. It explains what took place during each meeting. It also spells out what reports and other materials the team relied upon. This section becomes the record of what occurred. Usually it explains how recommendations were arrived at. This is particularly helpful to people who were not at the meeting. This will include many of your child’s teachers, who are reviewing your child’s IEP prior to the start of school. Look at the comments about the meeting.  See if they state what actually happened. Do they leave out mention of any important discussions? If the comments are not complete or accurate, notify the meeting chairperson of that fact in writing.  

  • Other Options Considered

The IEP might also have a section which states the other placement options the team considered and why the team rejected these options. Sometimes, for example, a placement is deemed too restrictive – it does not provide enough learning opportunities with non-disabled children.  In other instances, there will not be enough support.  The reasons vary.  This option helps the reader to understand whether the IEP team recommended the least restrictive placement for your child, which is required under federal and state law.  

Now that you have read your child’s IEP, let’s make sure you can understand it.  The next part of my blog will address strategies you can use to help you understand the services recommended for your child. 

For additional resources, including helpful books and links to other web sites, I encourage you to access my web site at     *I would like to thank Pete and Pam Wright for their assistance in editing certain portions of this blog.

Patricia S. Phelan runs The Law Office of Patricia S. Phelan – a practice dedicated exclusively to the field of special education law and advocacy.  Ms. Phelan has been practicing law for eighteen years and is an experienced litigator as well as a parent of a child with a disability.  For guidance about your child’s rights under the law, please contact Ms. Phelan by email at or telephone at 845-398-3273.  For more information about The Law Office of Patricia S. Phelan, go to




Who Says Children Don’t Come With Directions!


The first day of school is approaching.  Knowing that a teacher will be working with your child with special needs for the first time can be unsettling.  Will they know how to address her needs?  How much do you tell them about your child so that they know how to support her, but are not turned off from working with her?  How do you protect your child, without looking like a neurotic parent?  How do you make constructive suggestions, without sounding like you question the teacher’s ability or professionalism?

Don’t give up.  You will get through this.

As a parent of a child with PDD-NOS, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I imagine like many of you I approach my child’s novel experiences with great apprehension.  While so many of my friends look forward to the summer, my husband and I struggle with the constant fact that the change in routine and lack of structure are always a challenge for our child.

We have learned over the years, through the benefit of some wonderful professionals as well as trial and error, that certain strategies can be helpful for our children with disabilities to minimize the stress of new transitions.

Based upon my personal and professional experience as a special education attorney, I routinely suggest to my clients that it is a good practice to learn those strategies which can help your child.  Once you understand how to help your child, you can convey these strategies to those working with your child. 


Create an Instruction Manual


In order to “summarize” your child’s strengths and needs, it is helpful to give professionals working with your child a copy of the PLOP list you created as we discussed in an earlier Part of this Series.  This gives the teachers, counselors, etc. an overview of what strengths and needs they can expect from your child. 

Critical to your child’s “instruction manual” is also a summary of helpful strategies which people working with your child should use.  Show this to professionals before they begin working with your child.  In addition to school personnel, these professionals may also include summer camp counselors, people supervising after school activities and childcare workers.

One format I have found helpful in my practice as well as my personal life is:  Mark your page with 3 columns (this can easily be created as a “table” in Microsoft Word.  The first column lists the problematic or maladaptive behavior your child is likely to display.  The second and middle column shows an example of the behavior.  Finally, the third and farthest column to the right lists the strategy recommended to deal with the behavior of concern. 

I recommend keeping a running tally of this information.  Each year, update your entries by adding them in a different color.  Hand in this instruction manual at IEP meetings, the beginning of the school year, or the first time anybody new is working with your child. 

In my experience, professionals have been appreciative of this valuable, heads-up insight.


Instruction Manual for your Child on the Spectrum


A large part of my practice deals with helping children with ASDs.  While nothing serves as a substitute for individual advice from the professionals guiding you and your child, there are a number of strategies suggested below which tend to help many children with an ASD.  They are incorporated into a letter written by Jene Aviram which I recently read on the Natural Learning Concepts web site. 

If you are a parent of a child with an ASD, consider filling in the blanks and sending in this letter as an instruction manual for your child.  If you are an educator, consider implementing these strategies with children with an ASD.




Thank you for assisting my child.  Here are ten points you might find helpful about children on the autism spectrum.


1.   Where did he go?

A group of children are all peering into the duck pond while the leader explains their habitat.  The counselor looks down at the child she’s been assigned to.  Horrified, she notices that he has disappeared.  “Where did he go?” she thinks in a wild panic as she races off to find him. 

Children on the autism spectrum are easily distracted.  If something grabs their attention, their instinct is to check it out.  It’s a good idea to remind children on the spectrum that it’s important to stay with the group.  Even so, make sure to keep a consistent check on their whereabouts to make sure they are safe.

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:  



2.   Participation

All the children are happily working on an art project EXCEPT for the child on the autism spectrum.  The paraprofessional is trying everything she can to motivate the child and is practically gluing, pasting and coloring with her hand over the child’s hand.  The child is still protesting and the paraprofessional feels uneasy.  “Should I insist he does this or should I let him off the hook?”  She wonders to herself.

Children on the autism spectrum often have different interests to typical kids.  While it’s perfectly fine for kids to have their preferences, there are many kids on the autism spectrum who would never participate in activities given the choice.  As you can imagine, never participating in life doesn’t hold a very promising outcome.  On the other hand, we certainly don’t want to cause undue stress in a child.  We do our best to find a balance and a compromise. 

Children on the autism spectrum appreciate structure.   They might be more willing to do the activity if they know exactly what’s expected of them and when it’s going to end.  A couple of strategies that might work are telling the child that he has to do six things in the activity and then he’s done.  Make sure you count them down as he does them.  Another strategy is to show them the clock or use a timer.  Let them know that when the little hand reaches the 3 on the clock, the activity is over and then it’s time for snack.  A third idea is to draw a small schedule of the activity.  Example, you could draw a scissors, glue, crayons and then the word DONE.  Explain the schedule to them in as few words as possible and assist them if needed. 

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:






3.   Privacy

The children are all excited because it’s time to go swimming.  The instructor is explaining the rules and telling the kids where the changing rooms are.  Out of the corner of his eye, he is shocked to see that the child on the autism spectrum has already started undressing and is practically naked.

Children on the autism spectrum are not always aware of privacy rules.  Sometimes they’re expected to undress in group situations (such as in gym class) and other times, he’s supposed to do this in privacy.  It’s all very confusing to the autism spectrum kid.  It’s a good idea to let the child know beforehand where the bathrooms are and where he should dress and undress.  Explain very clearly where this designated area is and who he should call if he needs help.

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:



4.   Turn taking 

The children are bowling and the child on the autism spectrum is thrilled.  This is his favorite game!  There’s just one problem.  He is so excited, he can’t wait his turn.  He keeps grabbing the ball and knocking down the pins.  The other kids are getting really upset and the assistant isn’t sure how to handle it.

Turn taking is a difficult concept for those on the autism spectrum.  They will likely need frequent reminders about waiting their turn.  A couple of strategies that might work are to use the “Pass the token” method.  Get an object, for example a token and direct the children to pass the token to the next child when their turn is finished.  When they get the token, they know it’s their turn.  Explain this clearly to the child on the spectrum and if he jumps ahead of the line, gently remind him by asking “Do you have the token?  When you get it, then it’s your turn.”  Another strategy you could try is to help him pay attention to the child before him.   You could say something like “This is John.  Wait for John to have his turn.  You go right after him.”

I would also like to add some extra information about my child: 



5.   Meltdowns

Without any apparent reason, the child on the autism spectrum throws his things off the table and starts having a screaming fit.  The teacher is stunned.  She races to him to find out what happened but doesn’t seem able to console him.  In a desperate attempt, she tries everything possible to calm him down.

Children on the autism spectrum have difficulty expressing themselves.  When it’s all bottled up inside, the result might be an outburst when you least expect it.  While each child is different there are some commonalities that cause stress in those with autism.  Environmental factors affect their sensory system and they are often unable to tune out information such as noise, smells, textures and things such as flickering lights.  If the child next to him is constantly tapping his feet, it might be as simple as to move him to another table.  Not knowing what lies ahead can be very stressful to a child on the autism spectrum.  An overload of stress often results in a meltdown.  You will be doing a great service if you write a schedule for the day and put it on the board or a flip chart that’s always in view.  This strategy will benefit others too, as all kids thrive on structure.  The schedule needn’t contain small details but rather give an overview of the day.  An example would be:

Today is Pirate Day

9:00 Greetings

10:00 Paint a pirate 

11:00 Snack

12:00 Treasure Hunt

1:00 Lunch

2:00 Splashing for Diamonds

3:00 Home time

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:



6.   Can you repeat that?

“Everyone listen up!  You have two minutes to finish decorating your shells.  Take them to ledge to dry.  Then put your left over beads in the red box and make sure you put all your crayons in the yellow box.  When you’ve finished cleaning up, line up to go outside.”  A few minutes later, the kids are almost done except for the autism spectrum kid who’s still sitting at the table with his shell and belongings scattered about.

Children on the autism spectrum can find it difficult to follow long verbal instructions.  In addition, they typically don’t ask the instructor or a peer for clarification.  This may result in the child following part of your instructions or becoming immobilized and doing nothing at all.  It’s important to understand the child is not being disobedient, he simply didn’t understand what to do.  Call him over to the side where there are fewer distractions and try and explain yourself in as few words as possible.  An example would be to say “I need you to do four things. 

1.    Take your shell to the ledge

2.    Put your beads in the red box

3.    Put your crayons in the yellow box

4.    Line up

To make sure he understood, you can ask him to repeat it by saying “You’re going to take your shell to the ledge and then…” allow him to complete the sentence.  Continue by saying “and then…” Once the child has run through all four steps, say “Great.  Go and do that now.”

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:



7.   Social awareness

Its break time and the children are having fun.  The children are playing and laughing together.  They’ve made up a game and are all participating.  The child on the autism spectrum child seems eager to join in but stands on the sidelines.  Then he turns around, sits down and happily occupies himself, ignoring everyone around him.  The aide wants to do the right thing and is faced with the decision of trying to get him to join in or allow him to remain alone.

The social world is a mystery to children on the autism spectrum.  We all tend to shy away from situations we feel uncomfortable in.  Kids on the autism spectrum need a lot of encouragement and assistance in social interactions.  Help the child interact wherever possible.  If the child needs the glue, tell him to ask another child to pass it to him.  Find another kid who is kind and tolerant and pair them up whenever possible.  Children on the autism spectrum have many capabilities and strengths.  Find out what these are and then engage the other children for help.  For example you could say “Gordon has an excellent memory and is really good at math.  He can help us with things like that and we can help him learn to play Toss-Across.”    

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:



8.   Poor motor skills

“Snack time is over” calls out the camp counselor.  “It’s time to clean up.”  He scans the tables and notices that the autism spectrum child looks very frustrated.  He hasn’t even started eating his snack.  Walking over to him, he realizes the child is unable to open his water bottle or his sandwich container which is snapped firmly closed.  “Do you need help?” he asks.  The child looks at the counselor with relief as he hands him his snack.

Fine motor skills can be challenging to those on the autism spectrum.  Zippers, buttons, closing and opening items, writing and tasks requiring detailed motor coordination may not be within the child’s capability.  Similarly, gross motor activities requiring coordination, such as various types of sport can be difficult for a child with autism.  We’re all familiar with the feeling of incompetence and it doesn’t feel good!  These are the times we need gentle encouragement.  Help the child feel successful by starting the action and allowing the child to complete it.  As an example, you could loosen the snack container and let the child take it off.  During gross motor activities such as sport, allow for some extra concessions.  For example, if the kids are playing t-ball, help the child bat or allow him to run to the next base even if he strikes out.   

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:



9.   Attention

The teacher is reading a story to the class.  The kids are enjoying it thoroughly but the child with autism isn’t paying any attention.  She doesn’t want him to miss out on the story, so she calls his name and asks him to listen.  He does for a moment but then continues to stare out the window.  She tries to talk to him about it later but he avoids her gaze and doesn’t respond.

Children on the autism spectrum have poor attending skills but excellent attendance.  That’s right.  It often looks like they’re not taking anything in but nothing could be further from the truth.  They typically hear everything!  Never make the mistake of talking about them from across the hall.  They’re bound to hear you and their feelings will be very hurt.  However, when it comes to activities they’re not interested in, they often have a short attention span.  They might concentrate for a few minutes and then require a break or a schedule to get back on track.  It’s a good idea to break activities down into small steps if they having trouble completing a task.         

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:



10.       Strange Behaviors

The child on the autism spectrum flicks his fingers through the air, makes a fist and bangs his knee.  He does it again and again.  The camp counselor watches in fascination and wonders if she should stop him.  Later she notices that he makes a strange noise every time he stands up.  Then she observes that he keeps asking questions he knows the answers to.  “Why does he do this?” she asks herself.

Children on the autism spectrum often have behaviors we don’t understand.  The child does not do these behaviors to be disruptive, but simply because he feels a need to do them.  Compare it to the compelling behavior many of us have of biting one’s nails, twirling one’s hair or cracking one’s knuckles.  While we might be confused by their behavior, they are often equally confused by our rules and expectations.  Children on the autism spectrum are unique and they all have different behaviors. 

I would also like to add some extra information about my child:



Thank you for your dedication in helping my child this summer.  My child might stand apart from other kids but just like everyone else, he wants to be loved and accepted for who he is.  Your kind and caring attitude will make a big difference in his life – and mine!  We are very grateful.  Thank you!


About Me!

This blog is where we comment on the issues and topics Hudson Valley parents deal with every day. We invite you to join us! Please leave us your comments.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 59 other followers