Self-advocacy is an essential tool for middle-schoolers with developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Kids this age may feel self-conscious about speaking up. But rehearsing with you at home can help. Here are some ideas about what your child can say.
1. “Can I get a different type of lock for my locker?”
Situation: Your child is always late to gym class because the combination lock on the locker is hard to manage.
Your child can talk to the PE teacher and say: “I’m late because I’m having trouble managing that type of lock. Can I use a lock with a key or is there another place I can keep my clothes?”
2. “Is there another way I can show my work?”
Situation: Your child’s math teacher says, “I can’t accept this homework. The graph is a mess and there are holes in the paper.”
Your child can say to the teacher: “I know how to do the work. But I’m having a hard time with handwriting and using the compass. Is there another way I can show my work? Can we find some free time to talk more about this?”
3. “Can I have some extra time to finish writing down the answers?”
Situation: Your child couldn’t finish an essay test because it took so much effort to write the answers.
Your child can speak to the teacher after class and say: “I wasn’t able to finish writing my answers because writing by hand takes me so long. Can I schedule some extra time for me to get it done?”
Your child can say to you or the IEP team: “Writing by hand takes a long time for me. Can I have extra time on essay tests or can I type my answers?”
4. “Can you help me figure out a problem with a classmate?”
Situation: A classmate says, “I don’t want to be your lab partner. You keep dropping things and can’t keep track of the papers we’re supposed to use.”
Your child can talk to the teacher after class and say: “My lab partner doesn’t want to work with me. Can you help me figure out how to make this work? I like working with him, and I know I’m frustrating him.”
5. “Can we talk about assistive technology?”
Situation: Your child is having trouble coordinating the mouse to get the work done in computer science class.
Your child can talk to the teacher or the IEP team and say: “I need a different way to do this. Is there a bigger mouse or some other assistive technology I could try?”