As parents, it is our job to worry about our children. It can be increasingly difficult when your child has a disability that prevents him or her from advocating for him or herself. One of your main priorities as a parent is to ensure the safety of your special needs child. When he or she is in your presence, you can almost guarantee it. However, once your child with special needs goes to school, how can you make sure he or she is safe?
Research tells us that “one in three children with an identified disability for which they receive special education services are victims of some type of maltreatment (i.e., either neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse).” In addition, school shootings and other extreme safety concerns are on the rise and there may not be a school safety plan that specifically addresses the needs of children with disabilities.
It is important as a parent of a child with special needs to ensure the teachers, administration and other school employees are properly doing their job and taking steps to ensure your child is safe. Let us share a several tips you can use to help ensure your child’s safety.
1. Address supervision and wandering early.
Any child can find him or herself in an extremely dangerous situation if there is a chance to wander off. This holds true for children of special needs as well. It is important to speak with teachers and administration about keeping a watchful eye on your child. Although schools typically have strong indoor security, if your child is outside and wanders off during a less supervised time, it can be dangerous. If your child tends frequently tries to wander at home, meet with teachers to discuss if your child can be assigned an aide for constant observation.
2. Ensure teachers fully understand your child’s needs, capabilities, restrictions and limitations.
Having an all-encompassing understanding of your child’s special needs is crucial. Each faculty member who interacts with your child should have adequate training on your child’s needs. An untrained staff member handling your child in an incorrect matter can severely harm or injure them. Accidents can happen but preparation to avoid these situations is key.
3. Parents should be actively involved with the IEP team and safety procedures.
It takes a village to raise and support children. Parents should go over emergency plans and procedural checklists to ensure their child will be well taken care of during an emergency. Additionally, there should be an Individual Emergency Lockdown Plan (IELP) in place for the special needs students that can ensure the teacher with requisite skills will be present. His or her involved may be critical to ensure your disabled child is continuously safe during a lockdown or emergency.
Ensuring your special needs child is supervised, is taken care of by qualified teachers and has a solid emergency plan in place are several of the most important safety aspects today. The key is to stay involved. Endeavor to keep an open line of communication between yourself and the teachers in order to establish a relationship over time as well. Does this article raise more questions than it answers? Do not wait to talk to a member of our local Tallahassee team.