Back to School [Tips for a Successful School Year with Autism]
The countdown to school in Texas is on! In another week, the sleep ins are over and the schedules are back. For lots of parents, particularly those who have a child with autism, the return of a scheduled day is welcome. However the transition of actually returning to school can be challenging and anxious for the children AND their parents.
If your school is open to it, your child might benefit from a visit to the school BEFORE it is over run with children coming for meet the teacher. They might be able to meet THEIR teacher (or teachers) in a more quiet setting so it’s not such a sensory overload. Communiaction with teachers will be very important. Kids with autism in a public school will have an IEP and so all teachers should be fully informed BEFORE your child arrives but many teachers appreciate any tips parents might have to help make the transition to a new school year easier. Writing your own social story about the school day with your child can be a great way to prepare them for how each day should look.
Try and start the school routine before the weekend before school if possible. Sleep is key and adjusting bedtimes and starting morning routines as early as possible may help their adjustment to the school year.
If you have concerns about your childs social interactions with their peers it might be really helpful to reach out to other kids for playdates BEFORE school starts if it is an option. Many schools also have great social skills groups they incorporate with other typical children during class time which is helpful as the school year continues.
For non-verbal children, lots of visual support is essential. Social stories are really helpful here along with pictures. If you can map out the day with photos (example, waiting for the bus, getting on the bus, walking to their classroom, finding their chair, sitting in the cafeteria opening their lunch box) hopefully that will make the transition back to school a little smoother.
Obviously as parents and caregivers we are all usually anxious about a new school year, try to stay positive in front of your kids so they don’t see your stress. It’s enough that they try to manage their own! Hopefully many of us have a great support network but if you don’t PLEASE reach out to us here, we would love to help!
Here’s to a great school year!