|10 Back to School Tips|
Joan Nash, school psychologist and founder of Children Succeed, has provided 10 great tips to help children with autism adjust to the new school year.
With the first week of August, thoughts turn to school and the beginning of a new year. We know that structure and routine are so important to children on the spectrum so it is important to provide them with a sense of support and predictability. Here are ten things you can do to help your child ease comfortably back into that first day of school:
1. Check with the school to see if it is possible for your child to meet the teacher before school starts. Most schools welcome parents. Visit the classroom, bathroom, cafeteria, etc. Ask the teacher for a basic schedule of the first day of school. Ask how the schedule will change on the second and subsequent days of school.
2. Provide the teacher with written information about your child. Attach a photo of your child with the information. Include suggestions on how best to calm your child as well as your child's likes and dislikes. Include contact information and let the teacher know the easiest way to reach you.
3. After visiting with the teacher provide your child with a simple schedule of the first school day. Review the schedule with your child and roll-play the different parts of the schedule. For example, take turns pretending to get up in the morning, get dressed, eat breakfast and get on the school bus. Refer to the schedule as you run through the different parts of the day.
4. For some children the first day of school may not be the best day to wear a new outfit. Encourage your child to select the outfit and lay it out the night before. Ideally it should be comfortable and familiar.
6. Call the school to find out if any of the children you or your child knows are in his class. Arrange a play date with one of the children in the class. Read the article “Beat the Play Date Blues” for some helpful suggestions for play dates.
7. Help your child practice meeting and talking to other children in the class. Children Succeed Step Into Conversation has some nice basic conversations to help your child get started. Start practicing a few of the scripted conversations a couple of weeks before school starts.
8. Allow your child to take a familiar object to school as long as he feels comfortable leaving it in his backpack, locker or cubby.
9. Take your child to visit the school playground. Talk with your child about things to do during recess. Help your child to practice asking another child to play using the Step Into Conversation cards.
10. After your child has wound down after the first day, use the About Faces cards and the daily schedule to review how your child felt during different parts of the day. Talk to your child about how the next day will be a little different and review the schedule provided by the teacher.