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Tips to Avoid A Back-To-School Autism Meltdown, Girl sitting on pavement

Tips to Avoid A Back-To-School Autism Meltdown

We see you supermom – this year there will be no back-to-school autism meltdowns. Or maybe there will be… Either way, it will be okay, we’ve got your back.

Back-to-school time can bring on a mix of emotions for parents. Some are nervous or excited for their child, some are happy to be back into a routine and following a regular schedule again. For parents of children with autism, these emotions can be even more intense. The transition from a summer schedule back to a school schedule can turn a kid’s world upside down, especially if they are on the spectrum. Below are some tips for making that transition as smooth as possible.

Back-To-School Tips:

Sneak Peek – Many schools have a day before classes begin for parents and students to meet the teacher and see the classroom and school. Take your child to all the areas/rooms they will be going to on a regular basis so they can become familiar with them, including their classroom, the gym, cafeteria, etc. You can even take pictures that can be reviewed later. Do things like practice their locker combination together so when your child has to do it alone, they are more comfortable or play on the playground so they can acclimate to that space as well.

Teacher / Child Introduction – Teachers always prefer more information versus less, and there is only so much that a teacher can learn from an IEP. Make sure to share nuances specific to your child that will help the teacher know them better. For kids with autism who are nonverbal, it might help to put together a portfolio so the teacher can learn more about them.  

Start Adjusting Early – Start following the school schedule at home early. For instance, if you need your child to be up by 6:30 am each day and all summer they have been sleeping until 9:00 am, you will need to start “shaping” their schedule to bridge that time gap so that they are used to getting up earlier. Also, try to time their lunch and snacks to match the school schedule, so their stomach is on the same timetable when classes begin.

Peer Connection – The ability to connect with their peers is difficult for many children, especially children on the spectrum. Try putting together a few topics that children their age are interested in and practicing conversations about it. An example might be the game Minecraft. If children in your kid’s class are into this game, practice conversations with your child so they can better connect with peers, especially in those first few days so they can start building relationships for the school year. You can also access multiple social story examples here, including one for back-to-school as well as if your child is going to a new school.

Stay Positive – Kids feed off of a parent’s energy, whether good or bad. If you are nervous or concerned about the new school year, make sure to stay positive and try to find ways to ease your concerns, so your child doesn’t pick up on them and add to their stress level.

Back-to-school time, like most transitions can be difficult for children with autism but with these tips, hopefully, some stressors can be better managed. Choices Psychotherapy wishes you a happy and healthy new school year!

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About Choices Psychotherapy

Choice is the foundation for a change. Choice speaks to the reality that there is not one right answer for all.  At Choices Psychotherapy, we are committed to empowering clients and their families to identify options while assisting in creating a personal roadmap toward health and recovery.

Related: Autism Spectrum Disorder