“Trust Your Parental Gut,” Pamela Furr Advises Parents with Children on ASD
Parents often face a challenging dilemma when deciding about their child’s education. On the one hand, there’s the guidance and expertise of the public school district. On the other hand, the unmistakable parental instinct tells you what you need to do for your child. This dilemma becomes even more profound when you have a child on the autistic spectrum, like Pamela Furr’s son, Loki.
Pamela’s story highlights the importance of trusting your gut as a parent. Loki’s journey through public school sheds light on the complexities parents can face when navigating the world of special education.
Loki’s educational journey began in a typical first-grade classroom. However, it wasn’t a smooth ride. Pamela watched Loki struggle, she participated actively in his educational journey, and found she had to re-teach everything in the evenings. Despite her efforts, the school team decided he should repeat first grade. This decision brought back memories of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting where Pamela had voiced her concerns.
As a parent, Pamela sensed that Loki wasn’t ready for first grade. She knew he was socially and emotionally delayed and had communicated this to the school team even before he entered first grade. However, Pamela trusted the IEP team’s decision instead of following her parental instinct. Unfortunately, it backfired.
When the school district offered a more individualized program, Pamela again trusted them. However, it soon became a separate grouping of all students with ASD. The school did not realize the lower-functioning kids might have dual diagnoses outside autism. They also failed to notice that autistic children try to seek attention and can pick up on each other’s behaviors.
”For example, if Johnny is not getting the teacher’s attention, he may throw his crayons on the floor to get her attention. Suppose Loki sees that throwing crayons on the floor receives the teacher’s attention. In that case, Loki and the other students will probably throw their crayons on the floor. They will emulate the behavior to get the teacher’s attention,” Pamela elaborates.
Due to these experiences, Pamela advises parents to trust their gut over trusting the schools. “You are the person who knows your child best, inside and out. You understand their unique struggles, challenges, and strengths. While educators and professionals may have a general understanding of your child’s condition, they can never fully comprehend the intricate nuances of your child’s needs and capabilities as you do,” she adds.
Pamela discusses her and Loki’s journey in her book “Can You Hear Me Now?” To read about her experiences in-depth, you can get the book here.
What Should Parents Do?
Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning it can manifest differently in each child. That’s where parental intuition comes into play. Parents can advise on the learning pace and methods as they better know their child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Suppose a child needs more one-on-one support, specific therapies, or a different educational setting. Parents can bring these issues to light that the schools may have otherwise missed.
Parents need to know that public schools have legal obligations to provide an appropriate education for children. If you disagree with their decisions, you can request an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting to make necessary adjustments.
However, it’s also essential for parents not to disregard the expertise of educators. They bring experience and knowledge, offering insights into effective teaching methods. Collaborating with them can lead to more successful outcomes for your child.
Whether to trust your instincts or rely on the public-school district’s decisions about your child’s education is complex. Most important is maintaining open communication with your child’s educators and advocating for their unique needs.
Ultimately, the goal is to provide your child with the best educational experience. And the best way forward is to keep both aspects on board. Combine your parental instincts with the experience of school management. That may create the perfect platform to discover the right solution for your child.
As a parent, it is always important to remember that you know your child better than anyone else. While you may not be an expert yourself, you can provide them with insights that they fail to count. Have faith in yourself, and don’t shy away from speaking up and asking questions. It is your right as a parent and the duty of the school management. Let us leap toward better education for our special children.