What pictures do you hold in your mind of your child’s day at school? What activities would be challenging? Which activities would bring her the most joy? How do you see him reacting to frustration? Is your child dancing when music is being played or sitting with headphones watching a learning video? Is your child running around enjoying the freedom of recess or walking the perimeter of the school yard? Is he sitting on the floor with the other children during circle time or on a chair on the edges of the circle? Is she contributing to group work or working independently at her desk?
As humans, we have incredible imaginations and we are constantly creating assumptions in our mind about what we think someone is doing and what they know or don’t know. We may not even realize that we have these ‘pictures’ in our mind until they clash with reality. The jolt of that comes from realizing things are not as we hoped, arouses strong emotions (momma bear and poppa bear seethe) and the result can often be that we lash out with a nasty note or phone call demanding answers.
But, before you react, consider this…
Have you expressed clearly and concisely the ideas, expectations or pictures in your mind of what you would like to see your child doing? Have you discussed these with your child’s teacher?
Our thoughts and visions are private unless we share them. A teacher cannot know what we expect or hope for our child unless we share our thoughts with them. The opposite is true as well, teachers owe it to parents and students to make their expectations very clear. This is particularly true of our students with autism since parents tend to have a good sense of what activities and tasks their child would be thrilled about joining in – and those that may cause their child to hide, withdraw or meltdown.
Relationships are tricky – I know that. But, I also know all too well that assumptions are almost always the mother of all screw ups when it comes to relationships! If teachers and parents were to communicate clearly and concisely about what they envision for the child, what they know about the child and then work cooperatively to find a way to make the vision a reality to the extent possible, what an amazing experience a student would have!
Share your vision today… and begin the collaboration. Our kids deserve it!