One of the key ingredients for success at school for your special needs child is communication. In the bridge short story, A BABY AND A WEDDING, I introduced a new school model, Forward Thinking.
A Baby And A Wedding is a bridge short story following, THE FORGOTTEN CHILD, and prequels FALLEN HERO. The Forgotten Child introduced you to Trevor, a little boy with autism. In A Baby And A Wedding, Trevor has made significant progress in many areas including his social skills. The new school Forward Thinking is based on the new teaching model for the 21st Century. What is key to making it work is communication and collaboration, between the teachers, the student, and the parents. In Trevor’s case as would be with most special needs, this would also include your private consultant and the education assistant who is working in the school with your child.
This is called a team. There are no other professionals involved. One of the biggest mistakes happening in most school districts today is bringing in an army of people, and then calling them an “Autism Team” for example. But this so-called school based team has no in-depth knowledge into your child’s individual program, and sees your child a handful of times throughout the school year, if that. So how is it even possible to implement a unique program for your child’s individual needs? Very few of these teams actually collaborate and communicate with the parents, and work with the outside private consultant. Quite often is the mentality, “we know best.” And in just about every one of these cases the special needs child isn’t making any kind of substantial progress, at all. And roadblocks are what the parent faces. And what about the cost school districts are willing to fork out to create this type of model, especially when the area of special needs is the first area cut in education?
So how does Forward Thinking work? It is based on the individual needs and interests of the child. For a typical child, they become partners and self-directed leaders in their own education. Instead of being told what to learn, and barely skimming the surface, the education model is shifted. The learning for the student is focused on a few and learning is in-depth so the child becomes excited and partners in their education.
How is this different and at the same time ideal for an autistic child. Flexibility, communication and collaboration. The consultant, the teacher, the education assistant and the parents are all working together designing a program that fits the unique needs of the child, the autistic child. And the program is always evolving. Focusing on the skills he or she needs at that time, which include but are not limited to social skills, teaching in an environment that benefits the child, putting the child’s needs to the forefront. How unique, refreshing and it works because this very real model is truly happening in some corners of the country, including public schools.
How does something positive like this begin in your area?