Back to School
The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year can be an exciting time, but also a stressful one. This may be especially true for children on the autism spectrum for whom any big transition or change in routine can be challenging. Whether your child is starting at a new school, starting school for the first time, or simply adjusting to the routine of fall in a familiar setting, here are some tips to make this transition as smooth and stress-free as possible.
- In the days leading up to the first day of school, talk with your child often about what to expect. For some children, the use of social stories or pictures of the school may help supplement these conversations and communicate to your child what the school day will look like.
- Using other visuals like a calendar can also help with creating clear expectations. You and your child can cross off days together leading up to the first day of school.
- Practice the morning routine. The holiday weekend can provide a good opportunity to ease your child into their new schedule by waking up a little earlier each day, closer to the time they will need to start their day during the school year. For children that benefit from visual supports, using a visual schedule can be a great way to structure the morning routine, from getting up and getting dressed to eating breakfast and waiting for the school bus.
- Help your child be supported by communicating with school staff. You might even consider putting together a one-page letter or flyer with important information about your child’s likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, sensory needs, etc. This could be an easy reference and valuable source of information to assist teachers and other staff in creating a supportive environment for your child.
- Many schools have meet-and-greet events, or other opportunities to tour the school and get to know the staff who will be working with your child. This can be very helpful as an opportunity for children to come along and acclimate to a new setting.
- Be your child’s best advocate by familiarizing yourself with and preparing for the IEP process and other aspects of special education. Organizations like the Michigan Alliance for Families provide free and valuable resources for families looking to learn more about the ins and outs of special education in our state.
- Most importantly, know that there are so many great teachers and other staff who are doing their best every day to support your child’s success. So take a deep breath and know that this school year is going to be a good one.
We hope you find these tips helpful. If your child is in ABA therapy, please be encouraged to discuss the transition to fall with your child’s BCBA, who can provide more detailed and individualized advice and support. We also hope that you all enjoy these last days of summer and we wish you a fantastic Labor Day Weekend! Please follow our social media and blog posts for more helpful tips and news about things going on here at Gateway and in your community.