Do parents with children on the autism spectrum need to prepare for school differently?
For most families, getting ready to start the school year includes new pencils and books and backpacks. When you child is on the autism spectrum, the effort to get prepared for school is so much more than just having the right school supplies.
Most moms with kids on the spectrum start worrying about the new school year as soon as the old year ends, and some, even before that! We hope for a smooth transition into the new year, new teacher, new classroom, and new challenges, but very often we find that we are disappointed when our child struggles from the first day to be ready for school. Many of us know all too well that our children will work so hard at holding it together at school that they will meltdown completely the second they walk in the door at home. This is painful to experience, and yet we often don’t know what to do to help. (Click here to read more about 7 Emotional Secrets Segment 4 – “I am so mad at the school system…”)
How can we get our child more prepared for school? Here are some tips to help your child be ready for school:
- Create a definite night time routine, including bedtime, and begin to practice it on August 1st so you have at least a few weeks to practice before school starts. Write it down so you can remember it exactly. Go over it with the child, provide a visual of the sequence of events and times for bed. Be consistent and stick to it whenever possible. This will help to create an evening routine that will not change when school starts.
- Create a definitive morning routine, including time to get up, handle morning hygiene and get ready to leave by the same time the child will need to leave for school. This will help reduce the stress of getting out the door. If your child experiences any neurological dysregulation, include 30 minutes of a regulating activity (see Essential Parenting Guidance Course for specific instructions).
- Wait until 5-7 days before school starts to discuss the new school year. Many children feel very anxious about school, so starting to discuss it too early may only provide more anxiety. However, the child does need time to adjust to the idea of a new school year.
- If you can, especially if your child is going to a new school, go to the school and locate the door the child will enter through, follow the pathway to the classroom, see the classroom, meet the teacher, find the child’s desk, locker, and the bathrooms. Meet the Social Worker at school and see if you can get permission for your child to seek out the social worker if he/she is overwhelmed.
- Set up open communication with the teacher. Let him or her know you are an involved parent, and you desire to help them have a good year with your child. If your child needs them, create signals for the child to use to ask to be excused, and start a journal that can travel with the child from home to school and back detailing what’s been learned, the specific words being used and how the day went.
I hope that these tips will help make your child’s transition to school year 2018/2019 a little bit smoother! If you haven’t yet, take our Essential Parenting Guidance Training for more support and information. Also tell your teacher that there is Teacher training available too! (Click here to read more about Does the Start of Summer Make You Want to Hide Under Your Hat?)