Friday, August 22, 2014

School preparations

With 5 kids, school preparations have to start early. This year, I will have a junior in HS who is taking college classes part time on campus. I will also have a 4th, 3rd, kindergartener and an all day preschooler.

I've especially thought about Afua and how to make a smooth transition for her this year. She will have the same teacher as last year, but new classmates. Her class also interacts with another half day preschool class and they do things like show and tell together. So here are some ways I give my non-verbal child a voice:

1. Photobook

I made a small photobook about our summer adventures. It will go with her to school and can stay there a few weeks as she meets new therapists or support staff. It can also help break down barriers with other students who can see pictures of our Disney World trip, swimming, blowing bubbles or playing with siblings.

2. Make the medical stuff look like non-medical stuff

Afua has a wheelchair, leg braces, a new body suit (that is great, btw) and many other outward signs that she is different. But when possible, I try to get her non-medical looking things that still do a great job. Like these shoes by Plae, that are great with AFOs but are regular looking shoes. Or sometimes a shirt with a familiar character sparks a conversation with another child. Kids are naturally curious and that is fine. My focus is on the things we can make look more typical and we love pink sparkly things here anyway:)

3. Communication

We have expanded Afua's sign language over the summer. I want her teacher and aide to know all her signs and there a few different ways we could do that. Some families take a chart like above and circle the signs their child knows in one color and the ones they can sign in another. As new signs are mastered, more can be circled.

I have been taking pictures of Afua's signs since hers are modified signs and at times look different. I hope to make a little book out of it since we will be using modified ASL as her primary communication.

4. Safety

I have many safety items on my Pinterest page. Medical alert necklaces, wrist bands or tattoos are all necessary tools for a non-verbal kiddo. yes, our school has all her information but in a medical emergency. I want things to be accessible. Especially after our cochlear implant surgery, Afua cannot have MRIs done without removing the magnet that is implanted. I have ordered a few different options that we will try over the first couple of weeks.

I would love to hear from other caregivers of kids who are non-verbal: what do you do to prepare you kiddos for school?

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! I love the idea of the photo book- wish I had thought of it before my son went back to preschool!