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Special Education Students

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Advice for Parents of Students with Special Needs


child with arm outstretched holding the hand of an adult

1. Create structure.
Your child’s world has been turned upside down, and while structure is helpful for all children, it’s CRITICAL for most children with special needs.

Utilize visual schedules, first-then charts, or some way to communicate what a child’s day should look like.

Timers can be your best friend as you look to establish structure and routines because they give your child a warning when a transition is coming and can help remove the difficulty of stopping a preferred activity.


2. Follow your child’s lead.
As your child’s #1 advocate make sure that your plan works for them. You know their needs, their interests and what they can handle. Channel their interests and preferences into their day and their learning.

Give some grace to your child (and yourself) if they’re feeling overwhelmed. Learning new skills and maintaining skills is important, but reducing the stress and anxiety for your whole family is paramount. Be flexible!


3. Advocate for what works for you and your child.
We are all trying to make distance learning work and learning as we go. Teachers and service providers are doing the best they can, but don’t be afraid to ask for what you need! Is the afternoon a hard time for them to focus? Ask to schedule sessions in the morning. Is the classwork too difficult and creating behavior challenges? Ask for differentiated assignments.

Most teachers are happy to try something new or get creative and greatly appreciate when you communicate about what’s working and what’s not.