Preparing Your Child with Autism to Go Back to School

Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families

Girl Walking Down School Hallway

Starting a new school year can be incredibly difficult for a child with autism. Children with autism succeed with routines and can have difficulty in the transition period between routines. That’s why the shift from the routine of summer break to the new routine of the school year can present difficulties. Here are some tips for making a successful transition into the new school year:

• Start adjusting times.
Unless you have maintained the same wake-up time and bedtime from last school year, it is likely that you will have to make some adjustments to your child’s sleeping schedule to prepare them for the transition to school. Start having your child wake up and go to bed at the times they will need to for success during the school year.

• Create a social story.
Preparing a social story is a great way for your child to visualize what will be happening during the upcoming school year. Social stories incorporate text and pictures and provide brief narratives about an event. By preparing one of these social stories about school, your child may be able to better grasp the upcoming event.

• Take a tour.
If the school is open prior to the first day of class or if there is an open house, take your child to their new classroom. They can begin to get familiar with their surroundings and learn where different things are located.

• Put it on the calendar.
If using a calendar and looking at the calendar is something that provides relief for your child, make sure you put school on the calendar. You can even put the start and end times of school, lunchtime, and what they should be doing after school (like having a snack or working on homework). If they can see this sort of thing before school starts, they may begin to feel more comfortable with the upcoming transition.

• Work on the morning schedule.
Start conducting mornings how they will be conducted during the school year with your child. This will help your child start to prepare for the school year. Instead of everything being new (new wake-up time, new morning routine, new school day, and new afternoon routine) on the first day of school, start adjusting your child to the pieces that you have control of like the morning routine. Wake your child up when they will have to wake up for school. Have them eat breakfast, brush their teeth and hair, and get dressed just like they would during the school year. Make sure that they are completely ready and prepared before the time they have to leave for school in the morning when you are practicing. By practicing this before school starts, they will be more capable of doing it once school starts.

• Practice socializing.
Socializing is a significant part of what happens in school. For children with autism, this can be incredibly difficult. Luckily, there are ways for children with autism to gain socialization skills. One of these ways is through Peak Potential Therapy’s Social Skills Group. Thank you to our friends at Friendship Circle and Autism Speaks for providing some of these great tips.

Here at Peak Potential Therapy, we wish everyone the best in the back-to-school season.To get your child with autism ready to go back to school, try some of these tips. For more tips for children with sensory issues and autism, check out our other blog posts.

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