Transitioning from Early Intervention to Public School Programs
The shift from early intervention (EI) to the public school program is one of the most important transitions in your child’s education.
How you approach this negotiation, how educated you are coming into the discussions, how well versed you are in your child’s needs—all of these elements will infl uence the outcome. This is the time and place where you set the stage for future interactions with the school.
Many of the tools and working strategies you already know through your involvement with the EI team will be invaluable. Many parents get lost at this stage because they don’t trust the knowledge they’ve gained about their child; they assume “others” know better and give in to their ideas, even when they don’t feel right for the child. Parents who are successful advocates for their child let their knowledge guide their actions and decisions, always putting the spotlight on their child’s needs and keeping their egos in the background. The rest is learned: how to negotiate with the school, the child’s rights under federal legislation, when to be forceful and when to back off, etc. Melding that procedural knowledge with your intimate knowledge of your child is what brings about the type of success you want for your child.
What are the differences between EI and public school programs?
Some differences are obvious and some are nebulous. Some differences are purposeful and others arise when the public school program falls short of its mission and intended structure. Among the differences you might notice:
- A shift in focus from family needs to services only for the child
- A shift in where services are provided
- Teachers replace parents as the child’s primary learning guide
- Parents no longer qualify for direct training on issues related to the child’s behavior, communication, social skills, sensory needs, etc.
- Related services are reduced to those that mainly impact the child’s education
- Unless the child has an aide, reduced one-on-one attention and more teaching within a group setting
- A shift in the teacher’s expectations of the child
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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