Parents must help schools help their kids with special needs

June 23, 2017 17:01
Teachers, like parents, spend a lot time with schoolchildren and could offer unique insights that would help in the students' progress. Photo: Reuters

Many parents of students with special educational needs struggle to inform the school of their children's condition.

"I am so worried about what would happen if the school knew that my son has SEN (special educational needs)," one mother said. "Perhaps the teachers might label my boy a problematic student and treat him differently. I am also afraid that his classmates might tease him or pick on him."

I bet many other parents with SEN children have entertained similar thoughts. But it is certainly not the case in real life.

The support given by schools for SEN students is now much improved, and cooperation between parents and the school is crucial to providing the students the best services.

First and foremost, it is a government policy to support SEN students. The Education Bureau even provides subsidy in the form of annual lump sum payments.

Most schools would use the subsidy to hire additional teachers or social workers to follow up on the cases of the SEN students.

Some would use it to engage small-group counseling services in the community in order to address the SEN students' behavioral issues.

That said, parents should assist the school in getting access to more money and resources by notifying the school administration of their children's condition.

‎Meanwhile, teachers' evaluations are also of tremendous help to doctors in assessing the SEN students and following up on their progress.

Teachers provide valuable information because, like the parents, they spend a lot of time with the students.

Doctors might ask the teachers for their records as well as their views regarding the students' attention span and behavior inside the classroom.

In addition, teachers, parents and other concerned school personnel can hold discussions on the case of each SEN student, and perhaps come up with new ideas and strategies.

Teachers can also receive views and suggestions from doctors and parents, and their inputs would help in drafting a better Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for each SEN student.

Since the IEP is a list of teaching and learning goals tailor-made for the students, depending on their capabilities and needs, regular inputs on the latest condition and progress of each student are most helpful.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 19

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

-- Contact us at [email protected]


Registered social worker for the child and adolescent psychiatric services