A new school year can be frightening for both parent and child. It’s important to make your child as prepared and comfortable for the upcoming changes as possible. There are many ways to make this happen:
- Social stories are an awesome intervention for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The story should have a picture of the school on the cover. If you know who your child’s teacher will be for the fall, a photo of him/her would be a great addition to any social story. If this is a new school to your child, you could incorporate photos of the front office, library and cafeteria.
- Make a school visit. I would recommend visiting as often as you can before the start of the school year. Ask the principal or office manager if you can walk the halls with your child. This will help acclimate them to their new environment.
- Review your child’s IEP. If there are changes that need to take place, contact the ESE Specialist when they return from summer break and set a meeting. Remember, you have the right to call a meeting whenever you feel the IEP is in need of review and/or changes.
- Some schools have websites with pictures of teachers, students and school-wide activities. If your child enjoys the computer, have him/her visit their website.
- If your child is going to have a “safe person” or place, make sure that they meet that person and visit the location prior to the first day of school. In order for it to be considered “safe” by your child, it must be familiar.
- If your child is a middle or high school student, obtain a copy of the schedule prior to the first day of school. Have the student walk the schedule and meet his/her teachers. Visit the gym, cafeteria, library and other areas based on their schedule.
- Schedule a classroom visit the week before school begins so that your child can meet his/her teacher without the distraction of all of the other students and parents on the first day of school or during orientation.
- Write up a “Day in the Life” describing your child to your teacher. This should be a one page synopsis of who your child is and what strategies have been proven to work best. It also offers the teacher a quick overview of what she/he can expect. Preparing your teacher can be as vital as preparing your child.
- Call the school during the summer to ensure that all specially designed/adaptive equipment for your child has been transferred to the new school site.
- Attend the Orientation held at the school prior to school beginning.
- Plan to get involved in your child’s school (ie, PTA, SAF/SAC, School Volunteer, etc). This is an awesome way to get to know the staff at the school and become informed about the different teaching styles of the staff.
- Stay positive. Your child will get their first impressions from you.
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