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Q

I’ve decided to mainstream my child from a special education setting to a general ed school. What are some pointers to consider?

Once you’ve decided to mainstream your child, the following are important Do’s and Don'ts:

A

Answered by

Hannah Hoch PHD, BCBA-D Encore ABA Supervisor

DO’S:

  • Support your child’s efforts at socialization. Have your child join a social support group, if available. Ask the teacher or school administrator if someone can organize a small group of kids who eat lunch and play together during recess a few days a week.
  • Visit the school and meet the teacher before your child begins school. Allowing your child to become familiar with his new school environment will make it less threatening and anxiety-provoking.
  • Communicate your child’s strengths to the teacher. If your child learns better through visual learning, the teacher may be able to modify the lessons to accommodate him.
  • Ask for extra feedback on your child’s behavior, especially positive. This will allow you to reinforce your child’s accomplishments at home, as well as practice areas of weakness, which will enable him to be more successful.
  • Get a second set of textbooks to be kept at home. Despite efforts to remember, many students forget to bring home the materials they need for homework and studying. Having a second set of textbooks at home will eliminate this problem, and give your child one less thing to worry about.
  • Ask the teacher to set up a buddy system for homework and sharing notes. Ask the teacher to assign your child a buddy she knows is patient, understanding, and responsible about schoolwork. Having an assigned homework and note-taking partner will reduce the stress of forgetting any missed work. This buddy system will also create a natural opportunity for your child to develop a friendship.

 

DON’TS:

  • Expect teachers to rearrange their class and schedule. Teachers will have to be accommodating, but they can’t be expected to change everything about their classroom to meet the needs of one student. Even if you feel your child learns best when seated front and center, the teacher may not be able to arrange this.
  • Assume a teacher who “goes with the flow” is better. Some children with special needs do better with structure and consistency. While at first you may think a more relaxed teacher will be more accommodating of your child’s needs and difficulties, the ideal teacher is likely one who is understanding but clear with her expectations, provides and follows a predictable schedule, and consistently applies classroom rules.
  • Assume the teacher will provide all of the supports your child needs. A teacher in a mainstream classroom is responsible for the education of a large number of children, and may not be able to develop, create and implement all of the supports your child needs as quickly as you want. The more you can participate in this process, the more accommodating the teacher will be. For example, if you know your child does better with written directions, send in post-its for the teacher to write instructions on.

Best of luck on your decision!

References:

Johnson, S., Meyer, L.S., & Taylor, B.A. (1996). Supported inclusion. In C. Maurice, G. Green, & S. Luce (Eds.), Behavioral intervention for young children with autism: A manual for parents and professionals. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Newman, B., Reinecke, D. R., & Hammond, T. (2005). BehaviorAsk: Straight answers to your ABA programming questions. Dove and Orca Publishers.

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