How to Help Your Child With Autism Have a Great Start for the New School Year
- Talk About the New School Year
- Meet the Educators in Advance
- Practice the New Morning Routine
- Prepare for Emergencies
- Have a Conference With the Teacher
Many children with autism are resistant to change or have a difficult time accepting a change in their routine, and these five tips can help ensure a smooth start of the school year for your child with autism. After a summer off from school, getting started with a daily routine or accepting a new teacher, teacher’s aid or classmates could be a challenge. With these tips, a child’s school year can get off to the best possible start.
Related resource: Top 25 Master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Online
1. Talk About the New School Year
One of the simplest yet most effective ways that a parent can get a child with autism ready for a new school year is to start talking about it several weeks in advance. Talk about the teacher’s name, bus driver, classroom number and other details as you learn them. Discuss the school day schedule, such as when the child will get on the bus, what time school starts and when lunch is.
2. Meet the Educators in Advance
Consider a tour of the school if it is a new school for the child. See if it is possible to meet with the principal or teacher before the first day of school. At many schools, the administrative staff starts to prepare for the new school year a few weeks before the first day of school. Teachers often begin preparing their classrooms several days in advance of the first day. Make an appointment to visit and meet the teacher, assistants, secretary, nurse, counselor and principal before the school is filled with children. The child will be less overwhelmed this way.
3. Practice the New Morning Routine
According to Autism Speaks, it is a good idea to start practicing the new morning routine a few weeks before school starts. Kids might get used to sleeping in or having a leisurely start to the day. Once school starts, mornings could be more hurried and stressful. Practicing the new routine before school starts helps to identify potential snafus so that they can be addressed in advance. Consider creating a visual schedule of what needs to happen when on school mornings.
4. Prepare for Emergencies
It is a sad fact that schools must conduct lock-down drills and emergency preparedness in case of a threat to students. A drill could be scary for a child with autism. Even the noise of the fire alarm during a fire drill could upset the child. Prepare the child now, and start practicing for emergencies before school starts.
5. Have a Conference With the Teacher
If the child will have a new teacher, it is a good idea to request a conference. If the child also has an IEP case manager or works with other professionals or para-professionals at the school, consider including them in part or all of the meeting. Discuss the child’s strengths and unique features. Explain if the child has sensory issues that could affect learning.
Children with autism need some extra help and attention, and these tips make the process of starting a new school year easier. Putting these tips to action early could prevent a problem before it happens. Each of these tips is designed to help a child with autism have a smooth start to the upcoming school year.