Back To School Tips for Children with Autism
It’s that time of year! Back to school means new clothes, supplies, and routines for children. It can also suggest new challenges for parents and their children with Autism. We’re here to help you get ready for a successful school year ahead!
We’ve compiled some tips to make your back-to-school experience as seamless as possible. Check out our blog post now to see what we have in store for you just around the bend!
Parents can do things to help their children with Autism prepare for their first day back at school.
Parents of children with Autism have a unique challenge when preparing for their children’s first school day. Of course, Autism affects every child differently, but many children with Autism have this thing in common: The unpredictable nature of the first day back at school can be tough to handle.
Our Behavior Analyst recommends easing your child into the school year by creating a “back to school” routine for them. They also suggest that you start this routine 3 – 4 weeks before the first day of class begins. But if you have less than a week, that’s OK!
Autism is a neurological disorder, and children with Autism can be susceptible to change. So take some time over the summer to prepare them for their first day of class by creating a routine that gets your child excited about going back!
How to create a back-to-school routine for your child with Autism?
Here are some ideas on how to start your Autism back-to-school routine:
Start with something fun! Start by getting your child excited about buying some new pencils or books. Then, take them to the store and let them pick out a new backpack, or even create their own. Making something fun will get your child excited about their first day!
Prepare before-school rituals. Your back-to-school routine should include what you do at home every morning so that when it’s time for school, they can learn to change out of their pajamas, brush their teeth, and get dressed in the same outfits they would wear when going to school. This way, when it’s time for school, your child will already know what to do next.
Find a place where you can make a list of everything your child will need for the first day. In preparation, make a list of all the things they’ll need to take with them when they get off the bus on their first day back at school. Also, ensure you know what time your child’s bus is scheduled to pick them up and where they are supposed to go after! Making the back-to-school routine as predictable as possible will help your child feel less overwhelmed on their first official day.
Prepare early and have realistic expectations! Don’t expect to get it all done right away. Construct a “back to school timeline” that is realistic and that you can work on overtime so your child feels they can keep up. There’s nothing worse than getting everything done at the last minute, so take it slow and be patient.
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Encourage your child’s learning by providing them with resources.
There are many things to do with kids on the Autism Spectrum, but sometimes it’s hard to find the perfect resource. Therefore, we have compiled a list of resources for parents looking for learning activities and tools for their children with Autism. Doing this is a great place to get started!
(leave space for Jen’s Recommended Resources from the Center)
Listen attentively when your child talks, even if you don’t understand what they are saying.
Your child’s world can be massive and scary, especially if diagnosed with Autism. Listening attentively to your child’s words or sounds will make them feel like you’re right there with them, even if you can’t understand what they are saying.
Make sure to talk about what they may expect on their first day of school. What their schedule will be, and let them know how much you’ll be missing them during the day.
If possible, you can take a tour of their new school, introduce them to their new teacher, and know what they will learn that year before the first day. They also have a great list of questions you may want to ask about your child’s new school experience. One of the most common questions parents ask when they first visit their child’s classroom and meet with their teacher is, “How do I help my child learn?”
Download the Autism Parent Handbook and get ideas for activities, tools, and resources to support your child’s learning on the autism spectrum!
Create an environment at home where your child feels comfortable being themselves and expressing any emotions they might have
It’s safe to say that children with Autism need a lot of extra help and support. However, sometimes it can be challenging for parents to know how best to provide this care, especially in school. We talked with one parent who has seen firsthand the benefits of a “safe space” at her son’s public elementary school. A safe space can be created in a home setting to help your child with Autism decompress after a long day.
To create a safe space for your child, you can create a designated area in their bedroom or playroom where your child can go to relax. This place should be cozy and inviting, with no distractions from toys or other household items. And most definitely should be screen-free if possible. In addition, a box of their favorite fidget toys can be waiting for them after school, so they have something to look forward to immediately after returning home.
To help your child relax, you can use objects or furniture that kids like. Some good ideas are:
• cushions on the floor to sit on
• bean bags
• play tents
• a hammock for reading or relaxing in.
A comfortable place to rest after school is one of the most important things you can do. It will help your child de-stress from school challenges and then allow them to focus their energy on more challenging activities, such as doing homework.
Research different schools to find one that best suits your family’s needs.
Parents of children with Autism often have a difficult time finding the right school for their child. It is important to find a good fit so that your child can thrive and enjoy learning. Every school might not be perfect for their needs, but you should strive to find one that will support your family and are willing to work with your child’s education plan.
If your child is already in a public school near your home, you should visit the classrooms to see how they are structured. For example, if your child is in high school, ask to observe a typical class to see how the teachers structure their day and classroom management. In addition, ensure that the school has professional teaching staff for children with special needs; in most places, inclusive support is required for children with learning disabilities.
Remember: it takes some trial and error to find the best option for your child with Autism! If you have trouble choosing between schools or need more information about what school options are available in your area, google your local Autism Resource Center for personalized resources.
Our After School Program can help prepare any student for the academic year ahead and give them opportunities for success in school. We offer both after-school programs and summer camp programs designed to meet the needs of every student diagnosed with a learning disability. To learn more about our program, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office today!