Back to school can be a stressful time of year for children. There's a new teacher, new classroom, new classmates and sometimes even a new school itself. For children with autism, this time of year can be especially stressful. All the changes can cause a great deal of anxiety, but parents can help make the transition easier.
Before the school year begins, take some time to visit the school and the classroom to allow your child to get comfortable with the space she'll be in for so much of her day. Meet the teacher and ask him if the seating assignments have been made and let your child sit in her seat. If it is a totally new school for your child, be sure to visit all of the areas she will be in, such as the lunchroom, the nurse's office, and the playground.
Continue to talk about school in the weeks leading up to the first day. You could even watch videos or read books about the first day of school and look at pictures of her at school from the year before. Mark the first day on the calendar and count down the days and weeks. The more you discuss it, the more comfortable your child will be when the big day arrives.
Start getting your child back into the school year routine and rules a few weeks in advance, such as earlier bed time and earlier wake up time. Ease into these by cutting back by 5-minute intervals. You can create a schedule of a typical school day for her using pictures and talk about how her school days will go.
Have your child make a list of needed school supplies with you and take her shopping. She can help you find the items and budget what she needs.
You know your child best. If you think that the noise and excitement that brews during the first few days of school might be too much for her, talk with the teacher and school about a special quiet place she can go when it gets to be too much.
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