Since the 1980s, the number of people who have been diagnosed with autism has risen dramatically. It is a neural development disorder which has characteristically impaired social interaction and communication. It also often includes disruptive behavior. Information processing in the brain is disrupted and the way nerve cells and synapses are organized and connected is altered. For a diagnosis of autism to be made, the symptoms need to be apparent before the age of three years old. For parents of children with autism, sending their kids back to school can be a stressful time. Experts at special education schools recommend the following tips to make this time easier for everyone.
- Plan your child’s clothing carefully. Whether your child’s school has a dress code or not, you can dress them in a comfort shift that makes them feel calmer. These weighted shirts or vests can be worn under a uniform or alone.
- Find out as much as you can about the new school year. Most special education schools will give you information about what to expect from the new school year so that you can prepare your child. Every school year has its own challenges. You should meet with your child’s teachers to get to know them and their teaching style. You can bring up any specific concerns you might have.
- What does the school do for kids who need sensory breaks? Most special education schools have set up to help kids with needs in this area. It is a common need for kids. One of the resources for children with autism is a “break box.” Find out if the school has one.
- Get school supplies for kids with sensory needs. There are a host of school supplies you can get to help your child succeed at school. Whether they are at a school for autism or not, they can benefit from special pencil grips. As the teacher if they have any recommendations for these kinds of supplies.
- Cut down on time using electronic devices. Your child will not be able to use their devices during the school day so you can start to get them ready for this by limiting the times they can use them at home. Start limiting their time with devices a few weeks before school starts. One way to start this is to set scheduled times during the day when they can use their devices. You will make the transition back to school easier if you do this.
- Do a dry run. If you are concerned about how your child will deal with going back to school, practice going back. Most special education schools will let you and your child visit the classroom before the school year begins. Bring your child to the school and have them meet the teacher (if possible). This can reduce their anxiety level (and yours).
- Use photos to get your child excited about the school year. Use a calendar and photos to help your child get ready and get excited for the new school year. Remind you child of all of the good experiences they have had at school and with their friends. If there are any things you did as a child that made you more excited about going back to school, tell your child about those experiences. Get them excited about seeing their friends and taking part in activities they like.
- Talk to your child about their feelings. They might have some anxiety or fear about going back to school. Ask them to be open about what they are feeling and reassure them that this is normal. Tell them about the people who are available at the school to help them if they need it. If you had similar worries when you were a child and at school, tell them about your experiences and what you did to deal with it.
- Start getting into the school routine early. Summer breaks are times to throw the school routines out. You will make going back to school easier by easing into the routine slowly.
With a little advance planning, you can make going back to school easier for you and your child.