This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy, I may make a commission, at no cost to you. See my disclosure policy for more information.
Children on the autism spectrum often thrive on routine, making changes difficult. Make the transition into school a better one by following our tips for preparing your child with autism for school.
Make School Familiar
It’s easy to make the idea of school a familiar one when it becomes a regular part of daily conversation. Talk about school daily as the time approaches so that your child begins to expect school and even anticipate it with excitement.
When you’re out and about, point out school buses or other children heading to school. Shop for school supplies together, and make the idea of school sound fun and safe.
Each Child Is Different
Remember, each child on the autism spectrum has their own unique challenges and needs. An important tip when preparing your child with autism for school is to prepare the teacher. Your child’s teacher wants to understand where your child lands on the spectrum and what that means for daily interactions. Every child with autism handles life changes differently, so the teacher will need to understand their needs.
Schedules are a necessity for your child. As school approaches, find ways to begin making school a part of their daily schedule. Here are a few ideas:
- Drive by the school each day at drop-off time. Talk about how fun it will be when they actually get to go inside.
- Create a story about school, and include your child in the narrative. Let them help tell the story or illustrate it. Make sure the story includes the time of day that school happens. For example, in the story, the character gets dressed for school after breakfast, then gets into mom’s car for the ride to school.
- Practice school at home with a little homeschooling as you wait for school to start. Remind your child as you do this that they’ll soon be doing the same thing with other children in the room.
Plan for the Unexpected
Unfortunately, no matter how we plan, the unexpected sometimes makes its way into our life. As a parent, you’ve doubtless spent time dealing with unforeseen situations. Sending your child with autism to school is a big step. Consider reminding yourself daily that things may not go as planned, and be ready with coping ideas and skills for yourself, the teacher, and your child when those times come. These ideas may help in case of the unexpected shows up:
- Plan on taking a few days off work as your child attends school for the first time so that you can focus on any issues that pop up.
- Pack a bag of sensory objects for the school, and let the teacher know when they might be helpful to use. (examples: fidget spinners or pop-its)
- Talk with your child about their feelings every day when they’re home, and help them to see things in a positive light when they aren’t seeing them that way.
- Find support for yourself through support groups for parents in your situation. You can share struggles and help each other find solutions.
The first day of school is overwhelming for any child, and it’s best to prepare for the big day. Many children with autism thrive in a school environment. The best way to make this new adventure a pleasant one is to remember that your child is unique, build up the idea with them, keep a schedule, and plan for the unexpected.