Transitioning Back to School - Autism Awareness

Transitioning Back to School

Call the school and ask if you and your child may do a tour of the building and view the classrooms. Even if this was done in June, it is a good idea to refresh the child’s memory after the summer break. Bring your camera and take photos of the relevant rooms your child will be using (i.e. the gym, library, front office, playground, the classroom). If the teachers and office staff are there, take their pictures as well. Assemble the photos into a book and label them so that the child can look at these photos with you and on his own.

Create a checklist of new school routines to provide predictability and lessen anxiety. This can be taped to the inside of a binder or agenda for easy reference. A checklist can be created by looking at the school handbook or newsletter. An example of this would be:

8:40 Bell Rings
8:45 Go to locker and put backpack and coat in there
8:50 Proceed to classroom etc.

Be sure to list times for class changes, recess times, lunch and dismissal times. Walk your child through these new routines. This is most effective when done at the school because children with autism have difficulty imagining they are in a different place when they are at home. Photos can help with this process, though.

Write a social story about transitioning from summertime to school. Highlight the big changes that may cause anxiety such as waking up earlier, taking the bus, or eating lunch at school rather than at home.

As a family, we have done all of these things for both of our children and it has made the transition back to school an easy one. Our son started junior high last week in a new school and it went very smoothly. He is our highly anxious child but he was already familiar with the school so this lessened his first day jitters.

My next blog post will be about the parent’s role in providing information to the school about their child’s needs and how best to assist the teaching staff.

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