4 Tips for a Successful Transition Back to School

Transitioning back to school can be scary for all kids. For kids with autism it can feel downright terrifying. Especially after just settling into summer. Here are 4 tips I use to prepare my autistic son for back to school and to make the transition as simple as possible.

  1. Visit the School:
    Drive to your child’s school. Park in the parking lot. Walk around outside. Visit the playground. Get your child used to seeing the building. We have been visiting Cooper’s school daily for nearly a week now to prepare him for his first day. One of the tools we use to help him is a visual scheduler from Goally. Goally lets me customize a visual (and verbal) schedule for Cooper to follow. For him, seeing it, hearing it, and practicing it is the best way to make a routine. Plus starting well before school actually begins.

  2. Photos and Video:
    Ask for pictures of your child’s classroom, hallways, restroom, playground, lunch room and so on. Ask for pictures of your child’s teacher and principal and other faces they will see around the building. We either print the photos out and make Cooper a book of school or we put them on his iPad so he can access them digitally. Another idea is to ask if someone at the school can make you a video of the classroom/building/staff or if you can go in as a parent and make a video. Last year Cooper’s teacher sent us a video of his room and team. It was amazing and he watched it a hundred times in preparation. What I adore about giving him visuals is he can ‘get comfortable’ with a person/room/space before he actually arrives. Last year he knew his Principal even before he met her!
  3. Start a Routine:
    Start a routine early. A week before school starts we start practicing for school. We eat lunch out of his lunchbox. We get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc., right away in the morning. We practice filling his backpack and setting it by the door. Routine is everything for Cooper. So the sooner we can get into one the better. No surprises.
  4. Ask the School for Help:
    Did you know you can call the school and ask questions? When I think about helping my son to be successful, I know a lot of it has to do with him understanding what’s going to happen. In order to do this, I need to ask the school for information. Like what is his schedule going to be? Can we come in and walk around? Can we visit his/her classroom? Where is the bathroom that he or she will use? Can we have a bus visit us? Can we zoom with his teacher? And so on. If your child has questions, try and get answers. It will help ease their anxiety.

These 4 tips have helped our son so much! Start early and be consistent.

Good luck to everyone starting school!

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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