Every child has the right to the help they need, to learn and take part at school.
Sending your child to school
If your child has special needs, it can be hard to think about sending them off to school. That’s how it was for Stacey, with her little one.
“I thought, ‘How’s he ever going to go to school? He can’t leave me!’ … But once I actually let him go out into the big wide world, I realise it’s not as scary for him – it’s more for scary for me. And then once I seen him at school, and to see in the last six months how much he’s progressed … Oh, it’s making me all teary! Seeing how he is now, I’m glad I did it, and sent him to school.” – Stacey
Your child needs your help and support to get to school, and to feel comfortable there. Whatever it was like for you, back when you were at school, you can now give your child a powerful message about how important it is to get their education.
“I can’t read or write, but I know what’s right and wrong. You’ve got to work on kids going to school. What I used to do, I’d take my girls to school and stay there with them. I done that for a fortnight. So they wouldn’t be frightened. They’d mix in with the other kids.” – Uncle Henry
Make sure your child gets the right help
Many children need extra help at school, so they can learn to the best of their ability. Some need a ramp, so they can get into the classroom. Some need to sit up close to the teacher, so they can hear, and focus on their work. Some need the teacher to explain things differently, so they can understand.
Every child has different needs, and you know your child best. That’s why the teacher needs you, to tell them about your child. Both you and the teacher have knowledge that will help your child, as Rodney says.
“Who knows the child more? It’s the mother. So work with both, you know? She can guide the teacher on the child, and the teacher can do it in a professional way, you know?” – Rodney
Reach out in hard times
Like anyone, families that include children with special needs might sometimes have hard times. For example, the family might have very limited funds. There might be changes at home, like parents separating, moving house or a parent losing their job. Or the family might be affected by grief and loss, drug and alcohol issues, family violence or child protection issues.
We acknowledge the role of government and welfare policies, such as those that led to the Stolen Generations, in creating intergenerational trauma and loss that impacts on these experiences for many in community.
Community care is a big part of helping many families get through those times. There are also services out there that can help you, including respite services that can give you a break, or other services that can help you meet the ongoing needs of your child.
Hard times in the family can have a big impact on children with special needs, even if they don’t understand quite what is happening. You can get support to help your children through those times, from community care, from disability services or from school. It can help to let school know what is happening for your child and family, so the school can adjust how it supports your child during those times.
Be proud and support your child’s education journey
Talking to the school can be real shame. This is sometimes the case for parents and carers who left school early, and who did not have good experiences at school due to racism. Stacey sometimes finds it hard, but she’s deadset to make sure that her children’s schools give them the right help to get their education.
“Be proud of who you are, and don’t let anybody deter you. You know who you are, and where you’re coming from. If this is the right path for you and your child – do it. You want to stand up for yourself, be proud of who you are. Like – I’m a strong black woman, and he’s my baby. You take him, and you learn him like you’re supposed to. And I’ll be watching you! You know? That way.” – Stacey
Rock Solid explains how you can support your child’s education. But you don’t have to do it alone. We also explain what support parents and carers can get, to help you work with the school and support your child.