Starting school can be a very stressful time for children with autism, with many new people, routines, and situations for them to get familiar with. Early preparation is important in helping your child deal with their transition into the new school year.
The tips below will provide a starting point for preparing your child with autism for the new school year ahead.
|Start talking about the new school year well in advance. Having conversations about school schedules, what to expect and things they are looking forward to or worried about can help alleviate their concerns.
Get organised at home
|School mornings can be very rushed and stressful. It can be helpful to prepare for the school days in advance. One way of preparing is to create a visual schedule or packing list with your child. This will help them understand what they need for school and develop their independence.
Practice school routines
|Practice new routines to allow your child time to get comfortable with them before the school year starts. By slowly introducing these new routines (sleep & wake up times, daily meal schedules) you can help your child adjust to changes outside of the normal routine.
Visit the school in advance
|If you can, try to visit the school before the start of the year to help your child become familiar with the school environment. Identify where they will be spending most of their time to help reduce uncertainty in the first few days of school.
Develop a profile for the teaching staff
|Prepare a short student profile with your child, for their teacher and support staff. This can help with introductions and making the staff aware of your child’s strengths, stressors and how best to help with these.
Meet the teacher in advance
This can help reduce stress for you and your child. Check with the school to see if you can arrange a time to meet teachers or support staff before the start of school. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have and go over the individual goals and specific needs your child may have.
It could also be an opportunity for your child to meet their teachers before the start of the year.
Here are some examples of how your school may be able to help: https://www.onethingforautism.com.au/10-education-things/
Give yourself and your child extra time to process
|The first few weeks of school can be very challenging and confusing for your child, causing them to become tired and behave differently. Allow yourselves some extra time to relax at the end of a school day before starting your afternoon/ evening routines.
Introduce your child to new uniform and equipment early
|Before starting school, give your child a chance to try on new uniforms and identify any sensory issues before the beginning of the school year. Test out equipment they will be using at school to help them become familiar with some of the everyday activities they will be doing.
Being proactive in the run up to the new school year by starting the conversations about school with your child early and introducing them to routines can help with your child’s transition into the new school year.
We hope these tips help provide a starting point to preparing your child for their school adventure next year!