Good communication is key to good teaming and good programming. Communication needs to flow between team members ... with the parents being vital members of the child's support team.
Maintaining regular and frequent communication will only serve to further develop trust. What is regular and frequent? That needs to be defined by you and the parents you work with. For some it could be once a week or every other week. For others it can mean every day. Why communication? Because autism spectrum disorders are communication-based disorders and parents have to rely on communication from others individuals who support their child to gain information about the child's day. You need to remember that what happens at home could affect school and what happens at school could affect home. Likewise, this can be a useful way of sharing strategies that work — what is used at home could work at school and what is used at school could work at home.
Whatever works to pass information back and forth regarding the child's school day, evening routine, sleeping patterns or weekend activities will do. We take for granted talking to our kids after school over a snack about their school day. "What did you learn?" or "Who did you eat lunch with?" or "Did you see your friends today?" or "How did your test go?" These are questions that a child with autism might have trouble answering and therefore his parents have no way of chatting with him about his day.
I don't think I can't say it better than a quote from this parent —
I always feel like I never know enough about what is going on. I think it goes to the fact that Pete can't tell me what is going on. You know? I can't ask him what he did today. What I mean is that I can ask him but he is not going to tell me ... at least not specifically. That's the frustrating part.
There are several ways to establish and maintain communication. One of the most common forms of communication is the communication notebook or the home-school journal. This, often times, is just a basic small, spiral bound notebook that is sent back and forth for communication. Parents may tell the teacher if the child had a good morning or what they did over the weekend. A teacher may write the words that the child used to communicate with or that the child played on the playground with another child. Some parents may prefer an email or a phone call with the same type of information.
It is important to always communicate openly with families using a positive outlook and in layman terms. By doing so, you'll continue to foster the trust that is so important to have with the families in your classroom.
Unfortunately, support teams can break down when consistent communication is not a part of the plan.
Remember, communication is vital and builds trust between team members.
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