As August winds down and September begins many of us who have children get caught up in the whirlwind that is the Return to School!  If your child is neurodivergent or has mental health struggles then the prospect of the return to school might be more daunting for you as parents.  I have compiled some pointers that should help you to make your child’s transition back to school a bit smoother

1. Ask for a tour of the school

  • Even if your child is returning to the same school, a tour is a great idea.  It will help your child know where their new classroom is and where other important landmarks (washrooms, resource room, library, etc.) are in relation. This can help reduce anxiety.  
  • It will also help you understand what your child is referring to in conversations because you’ll know the layout.
  • If your child is neurodivergent make sure teachers give them clear instructions if they are going somewhere for the first time by themselves or that another child goes with them.

2. Setup a meeting

  • Ask to meet their teachers before school starts if possible or shortly thereafter.  Don’t wait until parent teacher night.  
  • If the teacher can do a quick online meeting to introduce themselves this would be helpful.
  • If your child has specific needs or you know of strategies that would be helpful setup a meeting with the school shortly after the school year starts to discuss them.
    • Don’t assume that because your child went to the school last year that this information will be passed on - oftentimes it’s NOT!

3. Updated Individual Education Plan (IEP)

  • If your child has been diagnosed with a mental health issue or as neurodivergent they should have an IEP.  This is a document which outlines the accommodations your child must be given in accordance with their diagnosis.  This document needs to be updated every year and must be signed off by parents.
  • One of the best ways to get clear and concrete recommendations in your child’s IEP is to get a psycho-educational assessment.  This is an assessment done by a psychologist who does a battery of tests with your child and writes a report with specific and concrete recommendations in each subject area.
  • These types of assessments are hard to come by.  School boards do conduct them; however, they have long waitlists.  Advocate for your child to be placed on the school board list.  Check if your health insurance covers such an assessment and if so consider getting one done privately.

4. Ongoing Communication

  • Open up communication channels with the school and keep them open.  Ask your child’s teacher or teacher’s to provide you with regular updates.  
  • If you feel that things are not going well or your child’s needs are not being met then request a meeting.  Take notes at the meeting. If needed, continue to have follow-up meetings to ensure the school is being held accountable.

If you’re still struggling with a successful return to school or would like to discuss a more individualized plan for your child click on the BOOK APPOINTMENT link to schedule a parent counselling session with me today!  I would be happy to attend school meetings with you and assist you to advocate for your child’s needs.

Catherine Sullivan

Catherine Sullivan


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