Summer break is ending and it is about that time again to head back to school. The transition from being at home with a relaxed schedule for a couple of months, to returning to a structured school schedule, can be hard for most people, but especially difficult for children with autism. Some children have trouble adjusting to changes in routine, so starting school again may cause some challenges. Below are some tips and resources to make your child’s transition a smooth one.
Preparing for change/routines
As school is approaching, it is best to begin talking about school in a positive way. You can practice wearing a backpack, carrying a lunchbox, and wearing a uniform (if required) at home which will help generalize to school. It is also a good idea to drive by the school on your way to or from places, so your child can become familiar with the route and the specific setting. Talk about what is to be expected, and what a day in school will look like. Showing your child pictures of his/her teacher, classroom, classmates, and bus driver will help prepare your child for the transition that is about to occur.
Adjusting wake up time
The best part about summer break is the part about not having to set an alarm, and being able to sleep in. As school is approaching it would be a good idea to start gradually getting back into the habit of waking up at a certain time. First, determine how early your child needs to wake up to get ready for school and be on time for the bus. Start out slow by setting your alarm a half hour earlier each week. This will help your child to adjust to the school schedule, and make the transition easier.
Individualized Education Program
If your child is going to a brand new school make sure an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting is scheduled before school begins. This is where your child’s team of teachers and therapists get together to write the goals that your child will be working on throughout the year. This is a great time for you to attend, to make sure you agree with goals and you can express any concerns that you may have.
Stay tuned for the next part of this post, which will address touring the school, schedules, social stories and communication!