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What Parents of Autistic Kids Would Like Teachers To Know

What Parents of Autistic Kids
Would Like Teachers To Know

Dear teachers,

Sometimes the challenges of having autistic kids can make it hard for us to do all of the things that you might expect from parents... making sure homework gets done, listening to reading, bringing in supplies, volunteering our help or making it to meetings on time.

We know this must be frustrating for you. It might even seem that we're not trying or don't care. But please know that we might have some really good reasons...

We're busy

Our lives are jam-packed with therapy, learning about autism, specialist appointments and constant challenges. This can make it hard to find a spare twenty minutes for meetings, homework, reading or popping out to the store for a sheet of poster board.

We're broke

Doctors, specialists, therapy costs, time off work and even losing our jobs are all putting serious financial pressure on us. So yes, it might be hard for us to find $5 for the class trip.

We're exhausted

It’s common for autistic kids to have sleep problems so a lot of us are up all night, and managing meltdowns are physically demanding. We might not be functioning at our best.

We’re on eggshells

We'd do anything to avoid setting off a meltdown that lasts for hours, but it takes a while to figure out how to do that. In the meantime it can be like living in an abandoned minefield, so our nerves are on edge.

We’re overwhelmed

There’s so much to keep track of - information, appointments, terminology, advice - and we’re running on minimal resources. Systems are overloading.

We’re touchy

A lot of people don’t understand autism and judge our kids and our parenting harshly. So if we seem a bit defensive please don't take it personally, we're just used to having to protect ourselves.

We’re hurting

It’s hard to see your child struggling and not know what to do about it.

We’re in shock

An autism diagnosis can take time to come to terms with, so we might not be able to talk about it with you or have all the answers you need right away.

We’re confused

Much of the stuff we learned about parenting no longer applies. We might not be sure which parts they are yet, or what our kids might need.

We’re frustrated

We desperately want to help our kids but there are a lot of questions that need answering. 
There are long waiting lists for the help we need and the system is difficult.

We're in the dark

Our kids aren't great at giving us that note about free dress day, or handing you the brownies we sent in for the bake sale.

We're out of the loop

Playdates can be hard to arrange and there's not a lot of time for us to stop and chat with other parents. So we might not be a part of the classroom grapevine or have someone to call when we need help figuring out how to sew that costume for the school play.

But most of all...

We're grateful

We appreciate everything you do for our kids, and want to do whatever we can to help them have a great year in your class.

This article was first published in August 2012.

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