Ten Tips for Helping Kids with Autism Adjust in the New School Year

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have problems adjusting to new things. This is especially true in school with new teachers and new peers every year. Children with Aspergers Syndrome are higher functioning in many ways, but most still don’t like changes.

Try following these tips to help your child settle easier into a new school year routine:

1.   Let your child help pick out their new school supplies.

2.   Take them to meet the teachers and staff who will be working with them the coming year.

3.   Ask the teacher to assign your child a peer helper to help them take notes, get organized and with other tasks.

4.   Ask the teacher to assign your child a daily task, such as putting dates and assignments on the board.

5.   Show your child where they will be sitting (this should be near a teacher or aide).

6.   Give them a tour of the school, including restrooms, the lunchroom, library, office and all assigned classrooms.

7.   Help your child set-up all notebooks with dividers for organization, sharpen pencils, add         erasers and pens, etc.

8.   Make a laminated copy of your child’s schedule and place it on the front of their notebook.

9.   Show your child where their locker/cubby hole/book storage and coat hooks will be.

10. Ask their teacher to assign two sets of books – one for home and one for school.

Starting a new school year can be frightening to a child with autism. They have problems adjusting to new settings, people, and routines. Helping them succeed is often a joint effort between parents, teachers, staff and peers, alike.

Another student might offer to be their aide, note-taker, hall guide, and/or study buddy. This could encourage friendships, which are often difficult for children with ASD to instigate. The severity of the effects of autism should dictate how much help your child will need. Work closely with your child’s special education teacher to be sure all of his needs are met.

Discuss their new routine with them and help them arrange their backpack so they understand where everything will be. Have them color-code and label every subject in their notebook. Kids with autism thrive on order, so be sure things are orderly for them to start school. If they are changing classes, walk them to every classroom so they know the way. Show them the schedule on their notebook to remind them, and let them try it on their own. With these preparations in place, you can help your child have a smoother transition into a new school year.

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