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“After Struggling With ‘Communications’ Class, A Boy With Autism Finds Summer Love” – Rabbi Rebecca Schorr’s Blog .

Posted in: Blog

Her blog is here Link

Bright Futures offers one strategy to help equalize the discussion between parents and schools

A mother of an adolescent son with Asperger’s syndrome wrote in her blog about her joy in her son’s recent achievement, a relationship with a girl [his first girlfriend]. This writer also described her frustration with the rigid and punitive instruction in a class on communication that her son was required to take. The teacher did not recognize the special challenges Ben faced, and did not modify the teaching approach to improve his learning. In addition to other concerns, the teacher thought that Ben did not understand what a metaphor was or how it should be used. Later in the narrative we learn that Ben does indeed know what a metaphor is and how to use it; it was clear in his letter home from camp describing his new girlfriend. His mother was happy both with his achievement in making a relationship and in his description of his new girlfriend, which did show his knowledge of using a metaphor. The mother is a Rabbi, a highly educated, articulate and respected professional person. Yet she finds it difficult to get across to the teacher that what is being done is not helping her son to learn. This situation is shared by many parents of students with special needs.

Even professional people in the field of education can be intimidated by asking a teacher to modify his or her teaching approach, or by requesting a change to an educational plan. One thing we have found is the additional strength and confidence that a family can gain by having a person of their choice attend a teacher or IEP meeting. A third party who understands the student’s unique educational needs and the legal requirements outlined by the IDEA can ask clarifying questions, mention the school’s obligations under the law, surface assumptions that hinder progress, and offer a fresh perspective. For example, a team was pursuing the idea of yet another round of IQ testing for a high school student whose transition plan was in debate. The advocate simply asked what value this testing would provide. The answer was a clear one; no additional value would be gained. The student was relieved to not have to endure more IQ testing, and the team could then focus on identifying more practical means of career exploration.