Back to school for any parent can be a stressful part of the year, and for parents who have children with autism, they know it will take more than just school supplies and some new, cool clothes to get their child ready. With a little patience, practice, and these 6 tips, you can better prepare your child with autism for back to school!
1) Visit the School
Whether you can set up a tour of the school during summer hours, or even just stop by the building to show your children around, letting them see the place in person and visualize the experience will help to prepare. If you can, walk your children through their daily routines — beginning with the morning schedule, going through to lunch and recess, and ending with the afternoon schedule.
2) Begin Introducing School Routine
Once school begins, children lose some of the freedoms that summer brings. If you know your children will have a different sleep schedule, start getting them used to it in advance. Wake them up according to the time they’ll have to get up during the school year, and make sure they’re getting to bed earlier as well. The routine doesn’t just start and end in the bedroom either. You can prepare your children for the school lunches they’ll be eating, too, by making these meals at home!
3) Have an Energy Release
School starting means your children will be sitting for long hours inside, and having a physical outlet to release some energy is necessary. Think about the ways you can provide your kids with this. For some, it may be music lessons, swim classes, or even dropping them off at the closest We Rock. Whatever it is, giving your children a way to let out their pent-up energy during the school year will help both you and them.
4) Discuss the Unexpected & Prepare for Change
Neurotypical or not, no child does well with big changes. So be sure to prepare your children for situations that may not go as expected. Using stories to walk them through unexpected situations is great for learning how they might handle something difficult, and it allows you to give them the tools and advice to handle the next situation better.
5) Color Code School Supplies
Visual signifiers are great for children with autism. Take note of your children’s class schedules and look for ways to color code their supplies to help them stay organized, prepared, and on top of things. That way when the teacher asks the class to take out their notebooks, your children will know just what to do!
6) Practice with the School Supplies
Have your children use and practice with their school supplies before the big day. You can even create practice lessons and class-like activities for them to do. The more familiar they get with classroom work and school supplies, the better the first day will go!
We Rock the Spectrum hopes that with these tips every parent and child has a rockin’ back to school experience! One last tip: Be sure to take lots of photos!