It’s Back to School Time! How to Make the Transition Easier for Children with ASD
The first day of school can be stressful for kids of any age, whether they’re just starting kindergarten or heading off to college. For children with autism, adjusting to a new classroom, teachers, and schedule can be especially challenging. However, with planning and preparation, you can help to calm your child’s back-to-school jitters and help everyone get back into a routine.
Here are tips to make the transition easier:
- Prepare your child for the new school year weeks in advance by talking about what to expect and marking the days on a wall calendar. If possible, take a fun trip with your child to buy new clothing and school supplies, including sensory-friendly supplies such as fidget spinners or fidget cubes.
- Plan to visit the school ahead of time if your child is just starting or changing schools so they can become familiar with the layout of the building, where their classrooms are, and their schedule. It’s also helpful if your child can meet their teacher(s) during a school tour.
- Set up a communication plan with your child’s teacher and learn about the school’s support services and resources that are available.
- Practice the new routines in advance with your child. Create a visual schedule and practice the routine of planning outfits, allowing time for breakfast, and having lunches packed and ready the night before to avoid early-morning scrambling and stress. You can also use social stories that show the routine step-by-step, from waking up to getting on the school bus.
- Make back-up plans. If your child is nervous about missing the bus or worries about other things going wrong, discuss “what if” scenarios and how you’ll both handle them.
- Talk with your child about their concerns. Do you remember what it was like to start a new grade or worry about making friends? Encourage your child to pinpoint the things that make them feel anxious and talk through their concerns. Let your child know you’re always there to listen.
Remember, parents set the tone and while it’s natural to feel some anxiety too, being a calm role model with reassure your child. Focus on the positives and the excitement of starting a new grade and meeting new students and teachers.
Harsha Autism Center provides ongoing care for children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 2-22) with autism to improve the quality of their lives. If you would like learn more about how Harsha Autism Center can help please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (812) 233-8833.