Introducing Your Child With Special Needs To New Classmates

This school year we decided to introduce our daughter, who has special needs, to new classmates by way of a “Get To Know” Avery video. 
It’s normal for kids to be curious about differences. Some kids approach Avery, respectfully. They can see there’s something different about her, but they treat her kindly anyway. Some kids shy away from her. Some ignore her or deliberately shut her out. And sometimes, but thankfully not as often, some kids make fun of her behind her back

When we talk about Avery’s struggle with speech and explain why it’s difficult for her to form certain sounds, kids understand her challenges better and it makes them more comfortable around her. Also, when they know why she sometimes gets stuck in a repetitive verbal loop, repeating the same thing over and over, they’re less likely to feel frustrated with her because they know it’s not on purpose. She’s trying her best. 

When kids are given Avery’s back story, and know that it’s okay to ask questions about Avery, the staring and stand-offish behaviour almost always stops. In fact, when kids understand her challenges, they treat Avery as just one of the gang. Actually, they are quite protective of her. 

Now in grade seven, most of the kids at her school know her.

Younger grades and new students to the school don’t. And because she is unique (some traits are obvious, some are more subtle and confusing), we made this “Meet Avery” video to explain a bit about the strengths and struggles that come with her chromosome disorder.

This year Avery is following an alternative curriculum. The school has gone to great lengths to create a program catered to her specific social and academic needs. We are so grateful. 

These kinds of accommodations allow our daughter to remain mainstreamed in a regular classroom (with EA support). She gets plenty of time to interact with her peer group. But, she is also able to leave the classroom to take part in a variety of life-skills activities. 

When her grade is working on math topics beyond her ability, she might sit in on a grade two math class. Or when her English class is working on a detailed project, she might be collecting and sorting the school’s mail. She’ll also be working in the library and helping supervise kindergarteners at recess. With so many opportunities to mix with students across many grade levels, she’s excited about meeting a lot of new friends. 

Hopefully when her classmates watch this video and learn a bit more about Avery, they’ll be excited to be her friend too. 

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