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Importance of Involving Parents in Autism Education

Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are typically dealing with a host of issues because the children may be struggling with basic communication and change, as well as suffering from anxiety and behavior problems. Children with ASD can become victims of bullying and have trouble keeping up when mainstreamed. Involving parents in the education of their autistic child can help with consistency, ensuring that the child receives an appropriate education and develops life skills necessary to reach his or her full potential.

Parents Are Key in Successful Autism Education

Several federal laws have been enacted to protect students on the spectrum, providing support for parents as they advocate for their child's education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides for the development of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students with developmental disabilities such as autism. These plans are tailored to the child's specific needs and are most effective when parents are involved. Autism Society reports that "Most professionals agree that school-age children with autism respond well to highly-structured, specialized education programs designed to meet individual needs." No two children with autism are alike, and no one program is perfect for every individual with autism.

Parents and professionals need to work together so that teachers are aware of the child's behavior and communication skills at home. When parents share their expectations, along with the techniques they find successful at home, teachers are better able to tailor educational programs to the child's individual needs. Likewise, when teachers communicate goals, techniques and progress with parents, parents can be more involved in and supportive of the activities taking place at school. 

The U.S. Department of Education states, "When families and the institutions where children learn partner in meaningful ways, children have more positive attitudes toward school, stay in school longer, have better attendance, and experience more school success." 

Teacher Perspective

Autism Specialist Teacher Steph Reed recently wrote about the importance of strong relationships between parents and teachers and she stressed the following points:

  • Effective communication needs to go both ways.
  • Parents who feel supported and comfortable will speak openly to teachers.
  • What children learn at school can be passed on and followed up at home and vice versa.
  • Sharing changes in behavior, family circumstances, etc. will help both teachers and parents respond quickly, and provide appropriate support.
  • Being consistent, communicating expectations, and understanding that children, parents and teachers are always learning is key.

Becoming an Autism Specialist

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) offers a fully online Master of Arts in Special Education – Autism program. This program provides in-depth training on best practices for teaching individuals on the autism spectrum. One of the courses in this program, Parent Involvement in Autism, focuses on the parent/teacher relationship. In this course, students investigate, appraise, and apply evidence-based practices for early intervention. Students evaluate strategies for promoting parental education, training, and involvement in early childhood education. 

Consisting of 36 credit hours, this online master's degree program can be completed in as few as 12 months. Graduates of the program holding a teacher's certificate will be eligible to sit for the University Certificate in Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

Learn more about the UTPB Master of Arts in Special Education – Autism online program


Sources:

Autism Society: Educational Planning

Autism Spectrum Teacher: Successful Parent and Teacher Relationships for Children With Autism

U.S. Department of Education: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

U.S. Department of Education: Early Learning


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