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So your child qualifies for SEIT services. Congratulations on making that happen! If your district is anything like mine, I know that was a process and one that has to be maintained and redone time and time again. However, while you might have fought hard to get your child that SEIT support, working with them can be a whole other challenge. This blog post is a must-read for every parent with a SEIT. Here’s what your SEIT wishes you knew!
Parents! Welcome! Let me start by welcoming you to Sarah Scaffolds: The SEIT Blog. On this site, I give tips and tricks to SEITs, and also compile resources and interpretations for different students with disabilities.
While I didn’t design this site with you in mind, it can act as a great hub for all things SEIT and special education. Check out the other posts, and if you’re brand new to this world, might I recommend starting with What is a SEIT?
So you’re either here because you’re new to working with SEITs or having an issue of some kind. Maybe you can’t seem to find one to work for you. You’re hiring them but they keep quitting. Maybe you seem to be in conflict with them all the time.
Regardless of the way you found me, I’m glad you’re here, and I want to help.
Let me start by saying there is nothing to be ashamed of. Having conflict or challenges with people is normal and a part of life. No judgment here!
But let’s dive into what every SEIT wishes you knew!
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First: We Are Loyal to Only One Person
The first thing your SEIT wishes you knew is that SEITs are loyal to only one person on the case.
We are not employed by a district (usually) and beholden to no administrator to follow a particular lesson plan. While that’s great because it allows us to use professional judgment to decide what is best for your student, who are we loyal to exactly?
A lot of parents think we are loyal to them because they are the ones who hired us. We do most of our communicating with them, and often help them secure needed services.
However, we aren’t loyal parents either.
We are loyal to your child/our student.
What does this mean?
It means if we think something is happening that is not in the best interest of your child, we say something. Most parents love this part of our job when it comes to addressing problems at school but are less enthusiastic about hearing how there some things might need to be changed at home.
I’ve told parents that they’re sheltering their child too much, or that they have unreasonable expectations. I’ve even given suggestions to parents on how to talk to their children, as much as I’ve helped the children talk to their parents.
When your SEIT expresses concern like this to you, don’t get defensive or snappish with them. They should be doing so in a kind, nonjudgemental way and in keeping with their professional manner.
Also, they are probably feeling nervous and awkward about bringing it up. Yelling at them or getting defensive will just make everyone miserable.
They are not calling you a bad parent.
They know how hard you fight for your child, and this is just another part of that fight.
If they have a concern about something they see happening in your home having a negative impact on your child’s progress, they should tell you kindly and professionally, and help you make changes, as much as is appropriate.
They can’t reorganize your home for you, but they can walk you through something like letting your child do more things for themselves.
Second: We Are Hourly
When you cancel on us, we don’t get paid. So don’t do it unless someone is really sick.
The whole “my kid isn’t feeling it today thing,” really bugs us because you’re interfering with our lively hood.
Also, interventions should be done regularly to be effective, so you should want us there.
Everyone has different comfort levels in terms of working with sick people. When my mom was going through chemo and had no immune system, I wouldn’t even enter a house if a child had a runny nose.
However, outside of those extreme circumstances, I don’t mind being around people with colds, but draw the line at fevers over 100 degrees.
Talk to your SEIT about their comfort level with sickness when you first hire them and work out criteria for what you both would consider “too sick to have a session.”
If you Have to Cancel
If you have to cancel, tell us right away!
SEITs go to a million different houses or schools in a week. (Well maybe not a million, but it feels like that).
To learn more about our commute click here.
We don’t get paid for that travel time, which means that if we show up and you’re like “Oh no, I forgot to call you. He’s sick,” then we essentially commuted to work, and didn’t even get paid for it.
No session means we don’t get paid, even if we show up.
Now of course emergencies happen. I’ve shown up to houses right as a child is starting to throw up, but if you know your kid is sick in the morning, you really have to tell us as a courtesy.
And if you wait till five minutes before the session starts, expect some anger, because we’re probably already around the corner.
Third: It is your home but our workplace
No SEIT should tell you how to run your home, and they should respect any household rules you have.
Shoes off. Fine.
Wash your hands when you come in. No problem.
If there’s a food you don’t want your kid to eat or any other rules of the house you want to be followed, just let us know.
Similarly though, while you might live in your house, going there for us, is like going to work. We can hear if you’re arguing with your partner or screaming at people on the phone, and we can see you if you don’t close the bathroom door. (Yes that has happened to me.)
Things like that can disrupt our session or make us too uncomfortable to do our job, which isn’t what any of us want.
So treat us with respect, make sure there’s a dedicated space for us to have our sessions, and if you have some private things going on, maybe wait until we leave to take care of them.
Fourth: We are Not Child Care
Maybe the biggest thing your SEIT wishes you knew is that we are not child care. Our purpose is not to take your child away and “deal with them,” while you do other things.
Yes, a SEIT or other special education service provider will keep their attention for longer periods of time, and of course, you should take advantage of that! You’re a busy person.
But if we say we need your help, we have a question, or we want you to be a part of a session to teach you something, then work that into your schedule, please.
If your child can do all kinds of things with their SEIT that they can’t or won’t do with you, you should be a part of their sessions, working with the provider to make sure those skills generalize.
Also, we legally can’t be alone in the house with your child. There has to be another adult who’s in charge of safety. If you do have to work or make plans during our sessions, that’s fine, but you need to get an adult babysitter.
Fifth: Be picky when hiring and ask us questions
The last thing your SEIT wishes you knew is asking questions is good!
I like it when families ask me questions about what I’ve done before and other kinds of cases I’ve handled.
It tells me that they are involved in their child’s program and will be willing to work with me on integrating skills to generalize outside of sessions.
When people don’t have questions or seem to know what to say to me, I get alarmed.
The cases we work on are complicated and need to be handled in teams. If you don’t ask questions or seem to care about what we’re doing in our sessions and just “trust us” that tells me I’m on my own.
Asking us questions or for our opinions on other issues your child is encountering, tells me you respect me, and makes me feel valued as a professional.
Similarly, if you’re looking for a SEIT be picky about hiring.
This is your child and you don’t want to just pick the first SEIT you see. We are not all created equal, and having a SEIT you don’t like, don’t trust, or who isn’t qualified on your case, is a miserable experience for everyone involved.
Remember you fought to get your child these services. Fight just as hard to make sure the sessions are coming from a high-quality provider!
There are a lot of benefits to having a good relationship with your SEITs. If you develop a reputation as a respectful parent, it will be easier to find quality SEITs.
Keep these five things your SEIT wishes you knew in mind, and they’ll want to stay a long time. I’ve worked with families who are good to me for years.
Of course, it’s also a two-way street. If you feel like you’re doing everything you can, but the SEIT isn’t respecting you the way you respect them, then they are not the right fit for your child.
The most important thing to look for in a SEIT is someone who has an open mind, listens to you, cares about your child, and puts effort into what they do.
Ultimately, SEITs can make a huge difference in your child’s life, and it’s in everyone’s best interest for them to stay on cases. Talk through concerns, set healthy boundaries, and respect them as professionals, and you’ll do just fine!
And make sure to join my email list to stay up to date on all things SEIT!