Believe it or not, summer is coming to an end. While heading back to school can be an incredibly exciting time, it can also be pretty stressful. The task of transitioning back into a regular schedule and preparing for that first day is something that may be especially daunting in the minds of parents of children with ASD. However, with a little preparation, there is no reason why the school year shouldn’t get off to a great start. Here are some tips to make sure that this school year is the best one yet.
- Do your research
I am sure this is an obvious first step, but knowing what your child’s classroom experience will be like is key. Do you know who your child’s teacher is? Is the classroom sensory friendly? You may even be able to meet with your child’s teacher before school starts to address any concerns, allowing you to know exactly what you will need to prepare for as school begins.
- Go shopping
Pencils, glue sticks, markers, backpack—these are all things that can be found on a child’s back to school list. However, there are also autism friendly products available that can make sure your child is fully prepared for the school year. Depending on your child’s needs, products such as fidget spinners and weighted shirts may be the thing your child needs to stay calm and focused throughout the school day. Just make sure to check your school’s policies on fidget spinners ahead of time.
- Practice your morning routine
The first morning before school starts is often hectic. But by practicing your routine ahead of time, there will be less room for unpleasant surprises. For an added sense of structure, write down the steps for getting ready somewhere your child can see so that they are extra familiar with the new routine.
- Talk to your child about what will happen at school
Research has shown that presenting individuals with ASD with a visual representation of what they will experience going back to school will help them with their transition. Start by showing them pictures of their school or teacher. It also helps to tell a story about your child’s day at school so that they can imagine what their first day of school will be like ahead of time.
- Create a school passport
It can be hard for a teacher to keep track of all the different things that each child needs throughout the school day. This is where a passport comes in handy. Creating a page of your child’s interests, favorite things, and challenges will give their teacher a sort of cheat sheet they can use to make sure they can meet your child’s needs.
- Schedule play dates ahead of time
If you know the children who will be in your child’s class before they get there, hosting play dates before the school year starts can ease any social anxiety your child may experience on the first day of class. After all, everyone likes to see a friendly face on the first day of school.
- Start introducing the schedule ahead of time
Plan lunch, snack, and some work time into your summer schedule leading up to school. This can make sure that your child is not thrown off by an entirely new schedule.
8. Finally, relax
Look, no one likes to be told to relax. But if you act like school is something to be excited about, then your child will pick up on this. Things may or may not go perfectly, but by preparing yourself and your child, you are doing all that you can. So stop and smell the fresh pencils, and embrace a year of new beginnings.
For more information, be sure to check out our Back to School Preparation Guide, or contact our Help Hotline at 877-654-4483.