bullying

5 THINGS PARENTS CAN DO

1) PREPARE THE TEAM

::  Talk to teachers, administrators, and your school board about features of autism and the problem of bullying: What is our districts’ SEL? If we don’t have one, why not?
:: Communicate with teachers about your child’s specific strengths and challenges. A student portfolio is an excellent way to communicate with the team. Include ancillary personnel (lunch room monitors, campus security guards, etc.) when introducing your child to the school community. Often these individuals will monitor unstructured situations when bullying is most likely to occur.
:: Consider talking to your child’s peers to enlist support. You may want to talk to your child before you decide whether to disclose his disability to other students. Be sure to highlights strengths, as well as discuss challenges, in an age appropriate way.
:: Be polite, but make it clear to teachers, counselors, administrators that you will be involved in helping the team avoid your child’s victimization due to their disability

2) ADDRESS WITH IEP

:: Include social skills goals in IEP. Make sure the goals are clear and measurable, and that data is taken to monitor progress toward goals.
:: Also include building self-advocacy skills in IEP goals.
:: Write a familiarization plan (visit school, introduce to teachers, walk thru schedule) and document it in the student’s IEP to assure it happens.
:: Buddy up – if possible, identify at least one friend who will be with your child during less structured environments (lunch, PE, recess). Children who are alone are most vulnerable to bullies.
:: If your child does not have a suitable friend, ask that peer support be written into IEPs. Some campuses have programs such as Circle of Friends or other buddy systems. Even something as simple as having another student accompany your child during class changes can thwart many potential problems.
:: Consider asking for accommodations for the student to dress out for PE in alternate setting unless adult supervision is present (or pursue alternate PE credit if available). Locker rooms are notorious for bullying behaviors.

3) PREPARE YOUR CHILD

:: Talk to your child about friendships and how real friends should behave
:: Also include building self-advocacy skills in IEP goals.
:: If possible, obtain social skills training, again, with goals written into the student’s IEP.
:: Visit the school prior to the first day – walk through the student’s schedule with them. You may need to obtain permission to do this and have the requirement documented in the IEP.
:: Introduce your child to key players (teachers, security guards, front office personnel, counselors).
:: Help your child get organized. Practice opening lockers, consider color-coding materials by subject, and provide visual schedules and maps if needed.
:: Emphasize their strengths, reassure them bullying is not their fault and that many children experience bullying. Let them know bullying is always wrong and must be reported.

4) MONITOR

:: Visit the school and observe (volunteer, be there for another purpose)
:: Talk to your child often
  • Do your friends have special names for you?
  • Who do you sit with at lunch?
  • Which friends do you talk to during the day?
  • What’s your least favorite class? Why?
:: Keep communication lines open with teachers, others
:: Ask questions. If there is a student who might be aware of how things are going for your child, ask them questions, whether your child is verbal or non-verbal.

5) USE YOUR COMPLAINT PROCESS

:: Informal resolutions (in writing to document communication)
:: File a complaint (read procedural safeguards provided by your school district)
:: Avoid becoming overly emotional, but be persistent
:: Emphasize that your child cannot make educational progress on IEP goals due to bullying
:: Know your rights – children with disabilities are a protected class – bullying children with disabilities is defined as harassment and can carry harsher penalties
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.html

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