Transitions are difficult for many children but for those with Autism, the stress of adjusting to a new routine is compounded. Though your child may have had instruction during the summer months, he is now headed for jam-packed days, complete with school, therapies, and hopefully social activities like challenger sports leagues, social skills groups, and playdates. There are a few things to remember when getting your child with Autism ready for another academic year.
*If your child is receiving therapies or direct instruction in the summer, schedule at least one of the appointments first thing in the morning so your child can get back in the habit of getting up and getting ready. If you can’t schedule work time, consider getting up, dressed, and heading out to the park. Have somewhere to go early in the morning so you can all get used to the morning routine. So many parents find this time of day to be challenging so get a leg up and start practicing now!
*Stock up on snacks or edible reinforcers that your child may enjoy at school. Have enough for the first two weeks so you’re not scrambling and running to the grocery store while trying to get everyone off to their first days of school.
*Many students with Autism benefit from visuals to help them understand transitions and schedules. Make your picture schedules and stories now and start rehearsing them with your child. Reach out to the teacher to ask about any big changes or scheduling conflicts that may be different from last year.
*If your child will be attending a new school in the fall, contact the school or teacher to set up a few visits so she can become familiar with the building and with the staff. Only stay for a short time and pair the experience with something positive, like a game, high fives, or toy he especially likes.
*Reach out to other parents, especially those in your Special Education Parent Teacher Association or a parents’ group. The transition back to a tight schedule can be stressful for both you and your child, so make sure you have a support system in place.
Back to school means back to busy routines and lots to do. Be prepared so you and your child can enjoy a smooth transition and be ready for a big year ahead!