On Jan 13, 2022, REEL members met in our PHP online support group and used Padlet to share strategies for communicating with teachers and schools about their 2e students, their biggest concern for the year, tools they need to advocate for change around their area of concern, and setting a goal to make change at their school for the year.
We have summarized the takeaways with the goal of helping parents make change at their school for their 2e child. REEL is here to help with resources (we add more based on your feedback) and our parent support group where you can get advice from other parents of 2e students. Every time a parent reaches out to their teacher, school, or district about 2e, they can effect change not only for their own student, but for all 2e students - as the schools hear about this from more and more parents, they are more likely to make a change.
What have you tried in the past and how did it work out?
Many parents found that communication with teachers at the start of the year was a successful strategy. They shared what worked in the past, what works at home, and what the student needs to succeed. Some shared REEL’s Intro to 2e One Pager. “I’m seeing that at my child’s particular school, I need to talk to the teachers at the beginning of the year about what he needs to succeed.” One parent wished for “some good ways to let them know that we deeply appreciate what they do while also requesting support and accommodations for our kiddos.” Watch REEL’s Back to School: Creating Your Student Intro One-Sheet recording for details about how to share student information with your teacher.
Another popular strategy was getting an IEP/504 for the student. It provided documentation and steps for support. One parent suggested meeting every 30 days to adjust the IEP plan. Some parents were frustrated they couldn’t get an IEP/504 for their 2e child because they didn’t present in the delineated way. Others lamented that even with an IEP/504 the support was subpar. “Simply getting a 504 plan set up has been a step in the right direction. There are documented accommodations we can discuss and check in on. They have helped my son in some ways but it's no silver bullet.” Watch REEL’s 2e IEP/504 Support with Lamborn Advocacy for information about how to get an IEP/504 for your 2e student.
Many parents brought in a team for support - the most commonly used outside resource are advocates. “Having an advocate changed everything for us. It empowered us not to be dismissed so easily and gain a better understanding of the process. I had someone on our side who focused on the big picture. A lifesaver for sure.”
Sometimes we forget to ask the student what would help them, but they often know best: “My son told the teacher, ‘Instead of telling me what I'm doing wrong, ask me how you can help me’ - that pivotal comment changed everything.”
What is the most pressing or important 2e-related challenge you'd like to see change or improve?
Parents want to see more education about learning differences and 2e, and more kindness and creativity in supporting 2e. They wanted teachers to avoid getting into power struggles and remove 2e stigma from the classroom. “Professional development for teachers so they are better equipped to teach and support our children.” You can share REEL’s educator resources with your school or classroom.
The group wanted their kids to use their strengths at school and be allowed more flexibility in how they present their knowledge. They wanted their children to enjoy going to school. “I’d like my son to be happy with school. He’s only 6 and has hated it the entire time. I wish people understood that 6 is too young to be miserable and to try things differently with him.” Watch REEL’s Strength-based Strategies presentation and Strength-based Strategies to Kick Off the New Year blog post to learn how to bring out your child’s strengths.
Parents also wanted their kids to accept their differences and use the accommodations offered. “Is anyone having issues with their 2e child refusing to use accommodations, unwilling to accept the diagnosis?” / “Yes to not using accommodations…they do not want anything else that makes them seem different”. Read Mike’s story and learn about his relationship with accommodations and his diagnosis.
Several parents were concerned about a lack of social support at school, “I would like my child to make more social connections at school.” REEL will look into the creation of an event or document about this topic.
2e students often don’t fit a clean mold for “gifted” or “requiring IEP services” and parents often find themselves stuck in the middle - not receiving support because the child is clearly bright, or not having access to accelerated learning due to their challenges. “Since nothing is "Wrong" we can't get support for him through the typical avenues.” Watch REEL’s 2e IEP/504 Support with Lamborn Advocacy for information about how to get an IEP/504 for your 2e student.
What is one goal you have for working with your child's school this year?
“My goal is for my son to feel psychologically safe around all of his teachers - that when he is refusing to do work or escalating, they get to the bottom of it and diffuse it rather than escalating it further.”
“My goal is for the school to create two new social opportunities that my child would actually like to participate in.”
“My son says, ’All school is boring; that's just the way it is, mom!’ I'd like to see the school make it a priority to get kids to see that school can be exciting and stimulating!”
“Be proactive and engage my son in a nightly routine - discussions where I prompt him to ask follow up questions and to work on listening skills / conversational skills” (Try REEL’s rating scale).
“I met with my child's team in early December about supporting her social skills development…I haven't seen any action on these… So, my goal is to re-send that follow up email and re-ignite the plan we had.”
“Primarily, I want him to feel comfortable with reading and writing…I want him to feel comfortable reading books quietly to himself, and writing a page or two, without worrying about spelling.”
“Our goal is to find a male ‘Life Coach’ with 2e child knowledge/understanding, to work with our 2e child psychologist and 2e young adult (18 yrs) transition to College.” (See REEL’s Marci Schwartz presentation.)
“A small step for me would be finding ways to connect with other 2e parents at our school, so that we could find common goals and advocate together.”
“I’d like my son to be safe at school. I wish the teacher explained how people can be different.”
What is your goal for the year? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org