Understanding High Functioning Autism, From the Heart of an Autism Mom, Part 3
Today, I want to talk about the label “Helicopter Parent.” It is a label that I cannot stand, but I will wear with pride. It is used a lot, when school staffers discuss ASD parents, who are in constant contact, requesting modifications, updates, meetings and accommodations for their children.
As ASD parents, we understand our children better than any other adult in their lives. We understand the triggers, how to redirect, de-escalate, and decompress our children. The majority of us are getting some type of help, whether it is a parent support group, like AspergerExperts.com, my favorite, or therapists. We live with our children, and we see everything they are going through. We are their best advocates.
It is our job, as the parents, to make sure, that the staff in our children’s schools are aware of any changes in behavior, medication, relationships, or any other aspect of our kiddos' life that may or may not affect them in school.
We have involved parents, and we want to know what is going on in our kid's lives when they are not with us. We understand that they can have meltdowns, or become non-compliant. We know our children might shut down during a test, or be unable to settle their bodies. We want to know when this happens, so we can monitor the frequency.
Our children get bullied at school, a lot, and we need to be sure the school is watching for such situations, and handling them accordingly. Our child’s well-being is in the hands of the staff when they are there.
A good amount of school administrators do not like being told what to do when it comes to handling our children. They do not like having their day disrupted by SST (Student Support Team) Meetings, or PPT (Planning and Placement Team) meetings. They especially get bent out of when in these meetings, a parent stands their ground in support of their child.
It gets worse when the staff wants to label a child as just defiant and “bad.” You see this more often with High Functioning Autistic kids than most anyone else. A lot of staff are uneducated on Autism, and therefore, do not see the signs. They do not like being told they are wrong, or they missed something.
So when you request screenings and testing, and then IEP or 504 plans, they become really resistant. An IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, or a 504, are tools that allow for certain accommodations and modifications that will help children have a fair education. By law, they must be followed, to the letter.
There are some teachers who just gloss over the bullet points, and do not take the time to see the details. They continue to treat the children in the same manner as before. Parents MUST be on top of this.
Now, not all School Staff are this way. There are some who truly love teaching, and will do whatever it takes to make every child, regardless of intellectual or behavioral differences, to succeed. I have seen some teachers and counselors go above and beyond the IEP/504 plan. They deserve to be commended at the end of every school year.
I, myself, have been dubbed a helicopter parent, in the past. In short, I requested over and over again, that my son be screened for Autism. The schools would not do it because they saw no reason. They said he “didn’t look Autistic,” and he “made eye contact,” and he “is too smart.” That was 7 years ago, and because I was intimidated by them, and I figured they were smarter than me on this topic, every year, I let it go.
Then, last fall, 2016, I finally put my foot down and made the demands. Sure enough, my son is High Functioning. I was right. I pushed for everything I knew my son needed. I email his Support staff on average, every other day. When something happens in a class, I contact his support staff AND his teachers.
*Tip: Never contact a Teacher, without Carboning your child’s Support Staff.
His school has an app, called dPower School, in which teachers put assignments, grades, and keep track of attendance. When I see something that doesn’t compute, in the homework or grade categories, I talk to my child, and then contact the Teacher, for confirmation or further information/explanation.
If I see an attendance issue, I immediately contact his Support Staff. 9 out of 10 issues that flashed on my screen with his attendance have been errors, and were able to be fixed.
The story of my own Aspieness can be found here.