Helping Your Autistic Child Handle The First Day of School

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For many autistic children, the start of school can be a challenge.  Most autistic children don’t do well with a change in routine, and the start of school is a huge change.  Here are some tips that can help make the start of school a little less daunting for your autistic child. 

 Of course, there is a wide spectrum of ability levels of children with autism.  Your child may be high functioning, or she may be low functioning.  Therefore, some of these suggestions may not be applicable in your particular situation.

Check Out Options

In some areas, parents with autistic children are able to opt into a year long schooling program.  This basically means that your child will go to school all year long and have short breaks through out the year instead of having a long break in the summer.  Many parents I met who have experience with this type of schooling feel it is a win/win situation.  Not only do the kids have less adjustments to make during the school year, but it’s a great help to many parents who may feel overwhelmed dealing with their children’s behaviors. 

Role Play

A great way to help your child deal with the challenges that go along with the first day of school is to role play.  You could verbally walk your child through the school day and explain different things that will happen.  You might want to discuss issues that may arise and possible solutions to those issues.  For example, suppose you get lost on the first day of school?  What would you do?  What would you say to a teacher if you wanted to ask for help?  Things like this can be a big help to a child with autism. 

Meet The Teacher

Meeting your child’s teacher before the start of school is very important.  This will give your child a chance to meet his teacher, and vice versa.  It will also give you a chance to discuss any particular concerns you have about your child’s ability levels.

Discuss The Schedule

If your child is in an autistic support classroom, you can probably expect that she or he will be in a small classroom that may have a teacher and several aides.  Usually, the school day is strictly co-ordinated and your child may or may not be mainstreamed into regular classes.  If he or she is mainstreamed, an aide or autistic support teacher may go with them into the classroom to help with any adjustment issues that may arise.

Although these tips may help your child’s adjustment, they may not.  If your child continues to have adjustment issues, it’s important to continue with the same routine despite any outbursts.  Eventually, your child will adjust to the routine!

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