Preparing for Back to School
The new school year will be starting soon, and for those families who have a child with autism, it can be a time filled with uncertainty and concerns. With all the recent changes, we thought it would be beneficial to provide some tips and ideas to help ensure a smooth transition back into the school setting.
Using visual schedules or calendars at home can help your child practice their daily routine before the school year begins so they know what to expect each day. Another great way to help visual learners prepare for a new school year could be taking your child for a drive around the building to familiarize them with the area. Reading social stories about going back to school can be a great way to explain what a typical day may look like and help your child adjust to the idea of going to school. It could also be helpful to take a picture of the school and include it in the social story so your child can visualize the building better. If your child tends to sleep later into the morning, and struggles with waking up early, it may be beneficial to use an alarm clock and gradually set the time earlier over the course of a week or two to help your child adjust to waking up for school in the morning.
If your child has just recently received an autism diagnosis, here are a few ideas that may help create a smooth transition into the school setting. For children who have not yet begun attending school, reaching out to the school district to best understand the steps that need to be taken is a great first step. Additionally, if your child is already in school when they receive an autism diagnosis, it is best to reach out to the school administrators as soon as possible to schedule a meeting and share the information about the diagnosis. Collaboration with the school and the district will be a major key for your child’s success. Sharing the diagnostic information, as well as providing your own important information about your child that may not be in the report, will help the school put together an individualized education program (IEP) that will best assist your child throughout the school year. This IEP will contain your child’s current level of ability, educational needs and goals, as well as any supplementary aids or accommodations they may need in order to be successful in school.
If your child’s school is recommending or requiring masks to be worn, we have some tips that may help ease their transition. For children who aren’t used to wearing a mask, or have difficulty wearing a mask for extended periods of time, it could be helpful for your child to practice wearing a mask for thirty seconds to a minute at a time and slowly increase the duration over time. Making a game out of wearing a mask, such as wearing a superhero mask, or wearing your own mask with them, may also encourage your child to wear their mask. The fit and design of the mask is also important. If it doesn’t fit right, the mask will be uncomfortable and your child may have a more difficult time wearing it throughout the school day. Finally, if these ideas don’t work and your child is still struggling to wear a mask, face shields or other protective coverings may be a good option to try. Additionally, if you’re looking for sensory-friendly masks for your child, we have included a few links below that may help your search!
Thank you for reading! We hope you found this post helpful. If your child is currently receiving services with us and you would like additional ideas to help ensure a smooth back-to-school transition, please reach out to your child’s supervisor and they can help create a plan for your child based on their specific strengths and needs. Be sure to follow our blog for the latest tips and guides, and stay up-to-date on our social media to see what’s new at Gateway. Have a great day!