Children on the Spectrum often have trouble adjusting to changes in their routines. As the beginning of the school year approaches, one should try their best to prepare your child enabling a smooth transition. Having your child comfortable and aware of any new changes, will help them adjust to their new routine.
Here are a few tips to help make their adjustment as smooth as possible:
- Practice your child’s morning routine in the days (or weeks) leading up to the school year and make that routine your new norm. Doing this before the school year starts creates a more comfortable and relaxing atmosphere as opposed to starting the routine under pressure.
- Expose your child to new supplies, backpack, and any other school related materials.
- If accessible, plan a tour of the new school, classroom and even try walking to the bus stop.
- Try to make it exciting. No need to be over the top but help your child think about all the positive things that come along with the change of being in a new school/grade, and how proud you are of him/her.
- If your child is in an integrated classroom, ask the teacher to have a talk with the class about your child’s autism. This can be very helpful especially when it comes to forming new friendships.
- Use social stories to walk him through his day. In a social story your child is the main character. Use photo narration and even drawings to portray what the new scenario will look like. Identifying and providing a visual of what the child’s new schedule will look like makes the whole ordeal less overwhelming.
- Encourage your child to communicate all his/her feelings and let them know it’s okay to be afraid or anxious. Allow that conversation to be a teachable moment to help work on their ability to cope in a new setting.
- Involve your child as much as you can with giving choices. For example, allow them to pick out their own backpack, school supplies etc.
- Knowledge is power. Know your child’s rights to receive a public education in a school that accommodates your child’s needs.
- Meet with the teacher who will be involved in your child’s care and take the time to talk about any concerns. Help the teacher know your child and what he/she can expect. This will lead to a smooth transition on the teacher’s part, which of course will help your child feel more comfortable.
- If your child has sensory challenges make sure he or she has a favorite sensory item available on the first day.
After your child comes home, it is just as important and crucial to help them settle down and relax after a long day of school. Knowing these pointers will allow your child to feel good about themselves and look forward to another day at school.
Here are a few:
- Don’t forget to praise and congratulate your child’s accomplishments!
- Give them a snack and something to drink; kids are hungry after a long day
- Give your child time to decompress when they get home from school
- Play a fun game, read a good book, or enjoy the outdoors
- Open their projects and schoolwork with them
- Make sure they get a good night sleep
It is important to prepare yourself as well as your child for the process of a new school year. Take time to gather your thoughts and feelings so you are prepared and calm to help your child throughout the process. Talk to other parents who are getting their child ready for the school year, so you are not experiencing this alone. There are groups and classes to join, such as the school readiness program. Children can sense when their parents are stressed so the less stressed you are, the better.
For more information, please feel free to contact us.