A new school year brings excitement, nervousness, and above all, change. For children with autism, the uncertainty of the upcoming year can be particularly difficult. To help your child start off the year on the right foot, we’ve put together 6 tips you can try to make this school year the best yet.
Help Them Know What to Expect
Children with autism thrive on knowing what comes next, so help your child understand when school starts and what to expect. Marking off days on the calendar is a great way to help kids see when the big day is. Show them pictures of the previous school year, their friends, or other school-related images to help them remember what school is like. If you don’t have pictures or this is your child’s first year at school, tour the school (see #3) or use online pictures. Using images of school routines, like lining up, can also help them remember old routines or prepare to learn new ones. You can even practice these routines at home!
Teacher Meet and Greet
Introducing your child to their new teacher before school starts will go a long way in making the first few weeks go smoothly. The new teacher can meet your child and get to know them in a more private setting, and you have the chance to discuss the class’s daily routine, the teacher’s expectations, and talk to the teacher about your child’s strengths and needs.
Tour the School
If possible, take a tour of the school and take pictures of locations your child will spend time in, like their classroom, cafeteria, playground, bathroom, and library. Look through these pictures with your child as you continue to talk about the upcoming year and what to expect.
If your child has friends that will be in the same class, plan a few playdates with them before the school year starts. Your child will strengthen their friendships, and seeing a few familiar faces on the first day is a great way to calm their nerves.
Practice the Routine
The school year means a new routine, which is a difficult adjustment for any family. A few weeks in advance, begin to wake your child up and send them to bed earlier so they get used to their new wake up and bedtimes. A few days before school starts, practice a few run throughs of your morning routine. If your child prefers visual schedules, you can make one showing everything from waking up to getting on the bus.
Share Previous Behavior Plans
If your child has a school behavior plan that worked well for them, share this with your child’s teachers and aides. The consistency from one year to the next will provide your child with some familiarity, and if you know the plan already works, you can rest assured knowing your child’s teachers and caregivers will be well prepared for the transition.
The start of a new school year can be nerve-wracking for parents and children alike, but Trumpet is here to help. Contact us for more tips on transitioning your child with autism back to school.