8 Tips for Working with Parents of Special Needs Children

8 Tips for Working with Parents of Special Needs Children
The Editorial Team November 25, 2020

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If you are an educator of children with special needs, it could be more demanding than teaching normal children. Being a teacher of a special child, you should also know how to deal with their parents. It is equally important to know how to work with their guardians as it is important to teach the kids.

Working with the parents of children with special needs is not a simple job. It comes with many challenges that need to be addressed; otherwise, your job can be at stake. Below are some tips that will help you in knowing how to deal with them.

1. Open Doors of Communication

A teacher is the only source for parents to look into the daily school activities and performance of their child. The role of a teacher becomes more significant for children with special needs.

The first thing that needs to be done is to open up communication with these parents. Keep them updated and communicate with them more frequently to avoid misinformation and anything bad. Give them feedback about their child’s performance on a regular basis so that they will be able to know in advance where their child is lacking and what efforts are needed from their side. Communicate the areas and activities that their children are good at and what they enjoy.

If parents of children with special needs are not addressed and communicated too frequently, it may lead to problems later on. For example, if one day they are called to the school all of a sudden to address a particular situation, which they are unaware of, it can lead to frustration and shock. This can make the situation worst.

2. Never Start a Discussion with Complaints

Always start the communication with a greeting and never forget to praise their child. Tell them how extraordinary their child is, as every parent loves to listen to their child being praised. Always remember never to start a discussion with complaints. Being a successful teacher, you can also initiate the conversation with a funny short story about their child.

Telling stories relaxes the parents and assures them that the teacher knows their youngsters and appreciates teaching and spending time with them. Then you can slowly move towards the main issue and tell the parents how the special student is struggling with decoding and concentrating. Also, add how you are coping with the situation and different efforts that you are making to change the behavior of the child. 

3. Never Criticize the Behavior of a Child

Being a teacher, you should never criticize the behavior of a child. It not only makes the child feel embarrassed but also makes the parents feel uncomfortable and self-conscious.

What you can do is tell them in a very polite way, not to mock but to guide their child which behavior is acceptable and which is not. Advise parents to indulge in discussions to make them act appropriately. However, never ignore your part. Communicate all your efforts towards their personality and character development. Do not leave the impression that disciplinary behavior can only be built at home.

4. Provide Information to the Parents

Help parents by teaching them how to handle the disability of their child. It is not only humane but also very important for your career growth as well. 

Help the parent in getting more information and give them access to various websites that would guide them on how to deal with a child with special needs. Also, provide them handouts and different materials for reading that specifically talks about a disability, how to deal with it, and any additional recommendations.

For instance, if you visit a carpet cleaning business to get your carpet or rug clean. The business would give you their handbook or access to its website to know more about the business and its services. In the same way, you must also provide information to the parents in the form of brochures, pamphlets, etc.

5. Ask Parents to Use Props

It is never easy for parents with special children to make them sit in one place and do homework. To help them perform better in studies, encourage parents to use props. Props are best for counting and other forms of learning. Anything can be taken as a prop, from toys to fruits or even vegetables.

6. Never Directly Ask For Medication

Being an educator of a special child, never ask their parents directly to give their children any kind of medication, even if you think it is essential. It can make them worried and confused.

If, in any case, you think medication is required, always request a medical specialist to counsel the parents of the child. A medical specialist would first examine the child and then prescribe any medication if he deems necessary.  

The proposal for medication should never come directly from an educator. Why? Because the parent would then think that the teacher wants to get rid of their child and his responsibility even if it is not the case.

7. Avoid Stereotyping

Every child is different, with their own needs, and they need to be dealt with in their own way. Never make fun of a child’s disability or use inappropriate language.  This can hurt the feelings of both the children and parents.

If a teacher makes fun of someone else’s child, it only reflects the utter lack of compassion and ignorance. Avoid stereotyping and never define a child by their disability. Always use the first language with students with special needs, a child with Down syndrome, and Autism. It is not only appropriate but also professional.

8. Avoid Labeling

A teacher should avoid labeling a child. Teachers who deal with special children usually have an understanding of the most common disabilities among the children; therefore, they should avoid labeling a child. Various disabilities among children have common traits. Never try to diagnose a child. 

Final Thoughts

Every child is different. Your job as an educator of these special children comes with more responsibility and dedication. Special needs are a broader term, and most of the time, the parent seeks professional support from the teachers.

Teachers, while dealing with parents having special children, should stay patient and open the doors of communication to avoid misunderstanding. They should be encouraged to share every possible detail with them right from the start.  Avoid stereotyping and never prescribe medication. It would hurt the feelings of both the parents and their children with special needs.

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