My blogger friend Betty (who blogs at My Friend Betty Says – a blog for smart and stylish moms) contributed an amazing post over on Mommy Maestra: 8 Questions to Ask Your Child After School. Betty, like so many moms, wants to know what happened to her child during the school day. As a school teacher, Betty encouraged parents to ask open ended questions while everyone was relaxed. Now as a mom of 3 boys Betty takes her own school teacher advice and is sure to ask questions that will provided more than a “yes” or “no” response.
But I’m like Betty – and any other mom – I want to know more about my kid’s day. So I ask questions. I ask them uncertain I’ll get an answer. I ask the same question a few times, just in case he needs time absorb it. And I ask questions I am certain he’ll respond to, even if I know the answer because I want him to get used to conversation.
Here are 7 questions to ask your child with autism when they come home from school:
1. What did you eat for lunch?
Most days I pack Norrin’s lunch. So on those days, I know the answer but I ask anyway. On days when I don’t pack lunch, I still ask. Sometimes I have the school lunch list but if I don’t, I present multiple choice answers. If your child is non-verbal – show them a picture and have them point.
2. Who did you sit next to at lunch?
It helps to know the names of your child’s classmates, so that you can prompt a multiple choice if needed.
3. Did you go to OT/PT or Speech? If they yes, ask what they did.
I usually ask Norrin about his related services but pose it in a multiple choice format. When he tells what related service he had, I follow up by asking “What did you do with [therapist’s name]?” If it’s a related service that I know he sometimes has with a group – I ask if he went alone or with his friends.
4. What did you work for?
Norrin goes to an ABA school and often works toward something. I like to know what he worked for.
5. Did you play with [name of child in his class]?
I always ask about his interaction with peers. I want to know what they played, if they had a good day or bad day.
6. What did you read at school today? (this is one of Betty’s questions)
I ask about reading and math when Norrin comes home. And then I ask him which he liked more. (It’s usually reading.)
7. Tell me about [whatever assignment/school work/art project is in his book bag].
Norrin doesn’t get much homework but he usually has some kind of class work or art work in his bag. I want to know all about that. I ask what it is and if anyone helped him. If it’s something that can be read, I ask him to read it to me.
When you have a child with autism, communication and conversation can be difficult. You don’t need to ask your child all 7 questions – this can be a lot for some kids. But ask one or two questions and build on their response. Expect a little more every day.