Sending your child off to school for the first time is a daunting prospect, even if they are able-bodied. Many children feel nervous and anxious about starting school for the first time, and it’s totally understandable – it’s a brand new environment which will take some getting used to. However, if your child is disabled then you will have more worries than most parents because it is absolutely critical that your child feels comfortable and relaxed within their surroundings. If your child is disabled then you may like to read our guide to finding a suitable school for them while you make your decisions. Read on for our top tips:
What Facilities Do They Have?
The school that you send your child to should have the right facilities for his or her disability. They should understand that handicapped children need more learning resources and different ways of teaching. It will help if they are experienced in dealing with handicapped children – you will soon find out if it is something that they are familiar with once you start talking to them, and looking around the school.
What Are the Levels of Teaching Like?
You need to make sure that the teachers who will be educating your child totally understand his or her disabilities. Again, it helps if they have had previous experience in teaching disabled children. It will also help if they have a working knowledge of sign language, as this can be very helpful with the communication in lessons.
Are There Similar Students at the School?
Your child will find it a lot easier to fit in if there are other disabled children around – they will feel like they don’t stick out as much. If disabled children are as much a part of school life as able-bodied children are then they will be far less likely to be singled out or teased. We all know how cruel children can be to one another, so the school should also have a very strict anti-bullying procedure which makes sure that any nasty behavior is not tolerated.
What About the Practicalities?
If your child uses a wheelchair to get about then it is absolutely essential that the school has adequate access for wheelchair-bound students. Doors should be wide enough to get a wheelchair through, and any steps should also have a wheelchair ramp as an alternative method of access. Rooms on first and second floors should be accessible via wheelchair platform lifts so that your child can reach every room just as an able-bodied student could.
Making sure your child has a positive experience at school is really important, so ask if you can accompany them for their first few days just to make sure that they are happy and that they have no teething problems. If you have any concerns at all then speak to the head of the school – they should be happy to address them and help come to a satisfactory solution. Do everything within your power to make sure your child has access to a school that is sympathetic to your child’s needs.