Autism Parenting: Has Your Child Outgrown Their School Aide?

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Does your child have a
school aide?

Many autistic inclusion students have an aide to help
support them during school hours. However, many autistic students outgrow the need for the
school aide. The times when they “wean” off from their aide varies, but I will
be discussing before middle school.

Does my child have an
aide?

Yes, our child began with a behavioral aide in pre-school.
He transitioned to a school-provided aide in the middle of kindergarten and has
been with that very same aide ever since.

When should a child no
longer have his aide?

There is no simple answer to this question, so I’ll stick to
only discussing my son. My son is now in fifth grade. We tried to make plans to wean
off his aide in fourth grade, but those plans fell through when fourth grade
turned out to be more of a challenge. Turned out, he just wasn’t ready yet.

Fifth grade has gone much better for our son and we feel
confident that this is the year. There have been signs, like the day the aide
called in sick and no replacement showed up. According to the teacher, my son
had a great day.

Most importantly, our son is now on board the plan of
weaning off his aide. He has discussed wanting
to no longer have an aide and he acts confident that this is what he wants.

My best advice about when to pinpoint a good time to begin
the weaning process is to begin it when the time is right.

What does that mean?

In my opinions, it means when school days are going
consistently good (with few “bad” days), the child’s academics are going well,
and the child acts ready to be independent.

This is usually when your child is older. We never would
have even considered weaning off our son’s aide when he was in first or second
grade.

And, again, we wanted to try it in fourth grade, but it just
didn’t work out. We decided to keep the aide and focus on better behavior.

When my son’s fifth grade began so well (the first four
months had only a handful of bad days), we thought he was ready for the
conversation. We talked to him about it, and he agreed that now was a good time
to begin the process.

How do you begin the
process? 

First, after discussing it with your child, the parents
should meet with the rest of the IEP team. I would make sure the entire team is
present during this conversation. You want input from the speech therapist, the
OT, the teacher, and the RSP person.Make sure to have a thorough plan in place by the end of the
IEP. You need to have concrete strategies in place that will begin a slow
process of backing off the aide with eyes on eventually no aide.

 

Some of things you need to consider are how to assist the
child when they are having body issues (my son calls it a “high engine”). The
idea is that the child may still need to help his body, but he needs to find
ways to take care of himself since he will no longer have an aide to assist
him.

 

You will also have to discuss what to do with the aide. I
don’t believe it’s fair to simply cut out the aide’s hours completely.
Especially until everyone on the IEP team is satisfied that the child can
handle his school life without the aide.

 

In my next blog, I’ll discuss some strategies you might want
to consider when you’re attempting to wean off your child’s school aide.

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