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Hope for the Lonely

For years I wondered if Sean would ever obtain enough social skills to be a happy, healthy adult. A big heartache for parents with special needs kids is their social life. Our kids generally do not have adequate social skills to be able to have friends, and they are lonely.

Although we had some support from the school, I wish someone had told me sooner to "Dream big!" The school is able to build social goals into your child's IEP (Individualized Education Program). A better way of thinking about our childrens' futures and helping them meet social goals is by having a vision.

First, make a list of short-term and long-term goals and put them in order of importance. Remember to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Ask your IEP team what their vision is for your child using the SMART strategy.

Vision Statement Ideas:

  • He will be flexible in routines.

  • He will be able to control his impulsivity.

  • He will be able to deal independently with novel situations.

  • He will act appropriately with peers and develop two friendships.

  • He will develop appropriate emotional and social skills with decreased anxiety.

  • He will be more independent in the classroom, lunch and recess.

  • He will develop a better understanding of facial cues.

  • He will expand his social language.

  • He will become an independent learner.

  • He will increase his self-confidence.

  • He will learn to advocate for himself.

These vision statements should be written as SMART goals and presented at every IEP with appropriate progress noted. And with any new teacher or therapist, you should ask what training they have regarding your child's disability.

For help with an IEP or a 504 Plan, and for ways to engage your child socially, please visit my Resource page. Also talk to your school about the "Best Buddies" program. If they don't have this established at your school, see how it can be started. Your child does have a bright future, and planning for it begins now.

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