Adjusting to a New School Year Can Be Difficult for a Child with Autism – 5 Tips for Parents
Getting ready for a new school year can have its challenges for any child. But if your child has autism, those challenges can be more unique and the experience more difficult.
For children on the autism spectrum, it’s usually the anxiety and the fear of the unknown that can make things problematic. That’s especially true if they’re going to a new school.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to make the transition from summer to the school year easier. It starts by preparing your child before the school year even starts.
Let’s look at five tips you can use to help your child adjust so you both can enjoy the fresh start of a new school year.
1. Have Conversations About What to Expect
You are one of your child’s greatest sources of comfort. They trust you and value what you have to say. So, talk to them about the school year well in advance, and more than once!
Let them know what they can expect from the year. Talk about what their schedule might look like and all of the fun classes they’ll get to take. The more you can make school a familiar place in their mind, the easier it will be for them to walk in on the first day without feeling totally unadvised.
2. Create a Morning Routine
A few weeks before the start of school, create a morning routine for your child that they’ll follow every day during the school year. By starting it a few weeks ahead of time, they can shift their mindset from summer and feel comfortable with the routine itself.
You can even create a written checklist for your child to follow each day if they tend to respond better to visuals.
3. Meet the Teacher
One of the best things you can do is to actually take your child to their school and walk through the building. Usually, this can be set up with a school administrator. A tour of the school will let them see their classroom(s) and where they can expect to go each day.
Additionally, you can set up a meeting with your child’s teacher(s). This will help everyone to feel more comfortable and your child can start to develop some trust for their teacher(s) instead of feeling anxious about not knowing who they are on the first day.
4. Inform the Teacher and Staff
Depending on your child’s behaviors and personality, you may need to talk to his/her teacher(s) and other staff in the school about how to make the transition easier and what to do if those behaviors become an issue.
It’s a good idea to inform your child’s teacher(s) about their strengths and weaknesses. Share what they respond best to and what they don’t respond to. The more their teachers know, the less likely it will be for a situation to get out of control.
5. Take a Deep Breath
This is a tip specifically for you—the parent. Don’t forget to breathe and relax!
It’s understandable to be a little nervous and anxious at the start of a new school year. But your child will undoubtedly pick up on your nerves. It could have an impact on them and make them feel anxious, too.
Instead, be confident that this year is going to be great for your child—and for you. By doing as much as you can ahead of time to prepare your child for school, you’ll give them the best chance for an enjoyable school experience.
If you want to learn more about how to help a child with autism adjust to a new school year, feel free to contact me for more tips and ideas about the transition.
Click here for more information on Children with Autism Counseling.