Top Ways to Communicate With Your ASD Child’s Teacher During the COVID-19 Shutdown

Our world has changed drastically over the past several weeks. No one could ever have imagined that our society would be closed down, and many of our neighbors befallen by a mysterious, invisible foe. Indeed, these are scary and unprecedented times for our world, and it means changing almost every aspect of our way of life.

Top Ways to Communicate With Your ASD Child’s Teacher During the COVID-19 Shutdown

Perhaps none is more tangible to our children than their schools being shuttered for an undetermined period. As many districts initiate a remote learning model, this necessitates testing out new ways of relating with the educational system itself.

Communication with teachers, helping with schoolwork, and changing routines are all challenges in this new and uncharted atmosphere of learning. This is especially true for parents working with children on the autism spectrum who are experiencing high levels of stress because of the vast changes.

Here are some suggestions for interacting with your child’s teachers and this new school model:

1. Be patient with yourself and others

Recognize that this is a time of untested remote learning, technology, and new ways of communicating with teachers and vice versa. Be patient with yourself and others. No one should expect you to pick up the role of home educator within the first few days. It will come in time for all.

2. This is a new and unprecedented issue

None of us are exactly certain how this current model of learning works. It is something that we are all working through as we move along. Everyone should expect some level of confusion, glitches, and issues among all of us.

3. Some of the new ways of learning and new curriculum can be intimidating for all of us to understand

Many of us have been out of school for several years. What students are learning and how they are learning it have changed drastically since our schooling. Children are generally very set on the “right way” to do work, which can be quite different from how we did/do it. That being said, it can also take time to relearn a lot of this material. Working through this material can be a good learning experience for students and parents alike. Have your child show you “his/her right way of doing it.”

4. Keep a regular routine

Having the role of home educator can be another overwhelming task on our plate. Set up a regular routine of learning, chores, and recreation to avoid becoming too much to handle. Routine is equated with safety in the eyes of our children.

5. Technology is not always the ideal communicative tool

When you try to detail complicated concepts or emotional concerns, it can quickly lead to frustration or misunderstanding. If/when possible, request direct telephone conversation or video conferencing to avoid any form of miscommunication.

6. Many schools have technology for loan if you need it

Many of us have to utilize technology for our own job. This can leave computer supplies lacking in your house if you have several kids. Most school technology departments will permit computers to be lent from the school and avoid the shortage of technology that you may experience at home.

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7. Emotions and fear can be ramped up during this crisis

Emotions and fear can be running high with the unknowns regarding COVID-19. Along that vein, be vigilant to spot that many times anger can quickly emerge out of this degree of fear, frustration, and anxiety. This may surface in a variety of avenues, towards people and situations who may be the unintentional scapegoat (and vice versa). Take time to identify what may seem like misdirected anger; it could be emotions sitting just under the surface. Be patient with yourself and others (especially during these times).

8. If you truly can’t find a resolution, a chain of command still exists

If you don’t get resolution from an educator after numerous attempts, then recognize there still exists a chain of command. Depending on districts, however, expect delays among all those you communicate with.

9. Most educators are available during regular educational hours

Curricula and expectations of special education pupils are much more stringent in the last several years. Many of us may believe we are not equipped to teach our children and feel lost as to what they are learning. Remember, all educators should be available during regular academic hours. Additionally, the teacher websites should be updated and offer assistance as well if needed.

Remember, though we are all distancing ourselves spatially, we cannot distance ourselves as communities. All of us must recognize the thread that binds us all together is that of community. Take care of yourselves, your children, and each other during these uncertain times. The most certain lesson we can teach our next generation is that of our compassion and humanity.

If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it on social media or linking to it from your website to help other parents. You may also want to check out our other resources on coping strategies for autism and COVID-19.

Brett Novick

Brett J. Novick, MS, LMFT, CSSW , has a master’s degree in family therapy and post-graduate certifications in school social work as well as educational leadership. He is an adjunct instructor at Rutgers University. Mr. Novick is the author of Parents and Teachers Working Together, The Likable, Effective, Productive Educator, Brain Bullies, Crappy to Happy, The Balanced Child, and Don't Marry a Lemon, and has had published numerous national and international articles as well as received several awards for his work in education, administration, counseling, social work, and human rights. More information on his books can be found on his website Facebook: brett.novick.9. Twitter: iambrettj.

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