APE – the Asperger Parenting Experience

The Life and Times of one Asperger Parent

IEP for ASD Parent-Teacher Conference cliffs notes

Posted by Patrick on 19 October 2008

This post also appears in my journal on Trusera

I went to the first kindergarten parent-teacher conference for my AS son today; although this is not the first time I’ve done conferences (2 years of them in preschool), this IS the first one I’ve attended where there is 1) an established, finalized IEP and 2) an official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome from a developmental child psychologist. Here are my notes, intended to serve as a guidepost for other parents who may be experiencing this for the first time.

I should say, my child has AS and attends a “regular” public elementary school. I visited a few special schools for more ASD-style therapeutic learning opportunities, but his IEP indicates 80%+ regular classroom (he actually takes 2hr/wk out of class), so I couldn’t justify the (wow, large) expense of the optional school.

The typically-developing child’s conference is a meeting with just the teacher and possibly a teacher’s aide. My meeting was attended by the teacher, the speech-language pathologist, the ECSE, and one of the district psychologists, as well as the dean of students. Don’t be overwhelmed by the folks who are there to both give out and receive information; they truly represent the child’s full range of experiences while at school and can offer a varying opinion base as to why certain situations may be more troubling than others.

It always helps to have the child’s home experience in mind when listening to the descriptions of school interactions. If they are similar, good; if they are vastly different, start thinking about how they are situationally different. In my case, they are somewhat similar, but there is more structure at school so he is very successful in that mode.

Take notes. Ask questions, especially of the teacher. Hopefully the teacher will have a journal or some form of catalogue that demonstrates your kid’s progress over time. If they don’t, suggest it, even if it’s for your kid. If it gets testy, ask for an IEP review and document it there (and maybe consider if you’re at the right school).

Share your experiences at home with the child. The school staff only has half of your picture – when they are telling you about the school experience, you’re getting the whole picture and you will probably have a few “a ha”s – the school staff will likely have the same if you share some backstory with them.

If you are doing a full IEP review at the same time, ask for a copy of the meeting notes and make sure to reserve some time for thought about possible changes or time allocations to the SPED services that are available. For AS, many school districts have a social skills group that would be a great suggestion as part of the kid’s at-school experience. And – it never hurts to ask what the staff thinks should be changed, if anything; you may disagree with their opinion, but the IEP is yours to modify.

Hopefully these things help.

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