Dear Miss N,
By now school is in full swing. You’ve learned your student’s names and faces, you’re getting to know each of their likes and dislikes, and you’re still acquainting yourself with every child’s strengths and weaknesses, it takes time.
Having said all of that, I’m fully aware that each of your students has their own set of challenges. You likely have students with ADHD, ADD, behavioural and/or aggression issues, learning disabilities, social anxiety and so forth. You’ve got your hands full and I can appreciate this.
My son is a student in your class and I’d like to tell you a little bit about him. Not because I feel he’s entitled to special attention or treatment and not because I feel his needs supersede anyone else’s. I’m a simply a mother who loves her son and wants him to have the best possible opportunity for a successful academic year in your classroom.
As you know, my son is on the autism spectrum. Autism is a very complex disorder that brings on its own set of challenges. For some, sensory issues can be an obstacle, bright lights or loud noises may cause meltdowns. In my son’s case, he can become easily distracted by lights and this of course can affect his learning.
My son is a great kid (if I do say so myself). He is funny, kind, and mischievous at times. He has very little focus, which can and does affect the way he learns. It takes a lot of verbal prompting and redirection to keep him on task.
My son is a mover. He loves to run back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. He will usually sit for an extended period of time if he is motivated – the Time Timer helps too. But more often than not, he needs to move. Short breaks throughout the day will work wonders, trust me.
Another thing you need to be aware of is that my son’s expressive language is still lacking and therefore, he is easily frustrated when he’s doing something he finds challenging. Instead of using his words, he MAY try to push you, or another student. He’s not an aggressive child, I promise. “How can that be?”, you ask? Generally, he is mild-mannered and keeps his hands to himself, but since he has difficulty with his words, this is his way of gaining attention. We’re working on extinguishing this behaviour, and we’re making progress. This is just something you need to be aware of.
Along with his frustrations comes anxiety. When demands are put upon him, his anxiety ramps up from zero to sixty. This may seem difficult to manage but if you offer him breaks, he should be fine.
My boy adores positive praise. Words of encouragement like “You’re doing a great job!” or “that’s amazing!” will go a long way and he’ll want to continue to impress you. The huge smile on his face will make you melt.
Apart from the challenges my son may bring forth as your student, you will also be pleasantly surprised. He will impress you and make you proud. There may be times you will doubt his abilities but he is an extremely bright boy and he’ll prove you wrong. Believe in him.
I really look forward to seeing what this school year will bring. I have no doubt that my son will thrive in your classroom and I am confident that he is in great hands.