Autism: Back to School Made Easy

Written by Dr. Carosso

Sorry to mention it, but…

Don’t hate the messenger but, yes, it’s about that time to start thinking about ‘back to school’. I shudder even writing those words given the implication of summer coming to an end.

Summer vs School Routine

Need I mention the difference between summer and school-year routines?  If you start about 3-weeks out, it’s much easier to ship your child into shape. Otherwise, it’s a culture-shock for your child, and not too pleasant for you either.

What to do:

  1. Begin slowly adjusting routines for earlier bedtime.
  2. Incorporate lengthier study and quiet-reading sessions throughout the day and week. This could include anything even remotely academic.
  3.  Visit the school playground more frequently.
  4. Arrange play-dates with school friends/acquaintances not seen for most of the summer, especially those kids who will be in your child’s class or grade.
  5. If you can arrange a visit to the classroom, and meet the teacher, so much the better.
  6. It can be helpful to color-code school supplies (notebooks, file-folders…). Integrate material-color with picture schedule.
  7. Purchase school clothes early, wash them a few times, cut-off tags, and make sure your child is comfortable with them well in advance.
  8. Pick-out a “cool” outfit for the first day (first impressions are important).
  9. Use picture schedules and social stories to prepare for the first day.
  10. Prepare school for emergency contacts and dietary issues.
  11. Prepare the teacher, aide, Guidance Counselor, ‘specials’ teachers, cafeteria workers, and anybody else who will listen for what to expect, and how to effectively intervene.
  12. Don’t forget to say a prayer with your kids before they venture off to school; they find that comforting and reassuring.  
  13. Autism-Speaks also has some nice back-to-school bulletins (I especially like the ‘about me’ activity):   

For all kids

Keep these tips in mind, and they’ll work well for both your typical and special-needs children.

If you have any other tips, please comment; it’ll be appreciated.  God bless and enjoy the rest of the summer!