BY DEANNA PICON
Easing Your Special Needs Grandchild Back To School. With new teachers, classmates, subjects and activities, they can benefit from extra support. Follow these tips to help your grandchild have a productive school year.
Be Supportive, Loving and Patient
Remember your grandchild’s disorder affects normal brain function, altering cognitive, communication and social skills as well as physical abilities. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
- This condition may limit your grandchild’s ability to process information, understand his/her surroundings and to learn new things. S/he may have a short attention span. Non-verbal children may find it difficult to express their needs and wants.
- Your grandchild may not learn quickly. You may need to repeat the same task several times to allow your grandchild to understand what you are asking of him/her.
- However, with that being said, most children are capable of learning and all deserve a good life. The investment you make in your grandchild now can reap huge dividends in the future.
Start Small and Build Up
Find out what they’re working on in school and which areas they need help in. Most teachers and therapists don’t have much time to work individually with students, so the time you spend will benefit your grandchild greatly. Here are four things to keep in mind:
- Your grandchild’s age or cognitive ability will determine the complexity of projects you work on. It may help to reduce a simple task to its smallest components when teaching a new skill.
- Begin slowly with small projects to gain a sense of what works best. Reading is a good way to engage young children. Have them point to pictures or words in a book to test their understanding. For older children, using iPad apps, is a fun and effective way to learn new subjects and skills. They tend to be more interactive with sounds, animation and variety.
- Many special needs children have poor fine motor skills so simple activities, like helping them to write, hand over hand, can help immensely. Playing with putty or a small, squeezable ball can build strength and coordination.
- If possible, spend time together regularly. Most children with special needs benefit from routines and structure.
Be The Cheerleader
No two children are alike. Each one is special and has unique qualities. Focus on what your grandchild can do and not what s/he cannot do. Every achievement, no matter how small, is something to rejoice about. Praise jobs well done. Reward your grandchild with a favorite snack, toy or gift. And pat yourself on the back for being such a wonderful grandparent!
Deanna Picon is founder of Your Autism Coach, LLC, which provides personalized guidance, support and seminars for parents of autistic and special needs children. She is a parent of a non-verbal, young man with autism. Deanna is the author of The Autism Parents’ Guide to Reclaiming Your Life. She can be reached at www.YourAutismCoach.com or @yourautismcoach.