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What can teachers do to reach out to families to get help, advice, and support about their students with autism?

Expert answer

At the beginning of the year we send out a letter to families and ask them to send a letter to the school telling the teaching staff about their child. And not about their disability but about their child, because I think too often what happens is that we define children by their disability and not by who they are. And so I encourage families to do that.

And then I encourage teachers to build a relationship. And you’re not going to build a relationship if you only get together with teachers at the Case Conference Meeting, which is very stressful for families. And as a teacher (I was a teacher for many years), what I found to be incredibly helpful was is to call parents randomly and focus on the things that are going well or give them information about things that they can do at home.

I’ve had parents when I was teacher who were just kind of amazed that I would call them and tell them good things about their children because they were so used to only hearing the bad things.

There’s one teacher that I work with — and this is a really brilliant idea that he has — he writes a letter home to the parents of all of his students each week. It’s the same letter, but revisits what they worked on during the week and then offers suggestions for how they can implement things at home as well. 

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