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BACK TO SCHOOL AT THE AUTISM ACADEMY: Helping Parents with the Annual Transition

By Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen

AUTISM ACADEMY – Summer vacation is spiraling to an end. Administrators and teachers at the Autism Academy, a school for children with autism, are making the final plans for an exceptional school year.

Parents everywhere, especially moms, are scrambling to prepare themselves and their children to head back to school. For parents of children with autism, emotions are often more intense and the preparations more involved.

Some kids need Individual Education Plans and others simply have a difficult time transitioning, so visiting the school prior to the start of the academic year is critical.

The Autism Academy has a team of returning veteran teachers that are familiar faces who make this process much easier.

However, the initial return to school always comes with underlined challenges.

Parents are encouraged to meet the teachers, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, from 2:30 – 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, staff will be returning to the buildings Monday, July 10th.

Parents should definitely take students to the school on a trial run, revisit the playground, the sensory room, and do a brief walkthrough to help launch the school year off smoothly.

Back-to-school season is a time of transition, but it doesn’t have to be a time of tantrums and meltdowns if you plan ahead carefully. 

Here’s a detailed list of 10 things you can do to help prepare children with autism for going back to school:

1) Make a Transition Book
Take a camera to the school, take lots of pictures of the building, your child’s classroom, and the teachers who will be working with your child. Look at the book regularly to help your child become reacquainted or familiar with the environment. Feel free to scroll through the Autism Academy website gallery for already existing photos.

2) Learn the New Routine
Teachers at the Autism Academy will go over the daily classroom routine so that you can review it with your child. Revisit this routine so your child knows what to expect when school starts.

3) Take Charge
It’s critical for parents to remember that no one at school knows your child better than you do. Get involved! Ask about the Autism Academy P3 Program where parents make a powerful impact.

4) Prep Slowly
Kids will pick up on your stress, so make sure you have all your necessary supplies early. A full week before school starts, prep clothes, supplies, meet the teacher, and have a consistent bedtime routine. This will make a smooth transition from summer-to-school schedule.

5) Schedule Your Well-Child Check-up
Come with updated records. Schedule your child’s wellness appointment as early as possible and let them know you need immunization and other records for the school.

6) Talk to Your Child
So often, adults know what’s going to happen, but we forget to share this critical information with our children. Sit down with your child, and talk about what he or she can expect. Ask your child about his or her feelings, both the excitement and the concerns starting school.

7) Prepare a Mini Guide to Your Child
Write up a brief, one-paragraph reminder that covers your child at a glance. Note any food allergies or medical needs the school should know about, things that are likely to set your child off, and things that will calm him or her down.

8) Encourage Friendships
Point out the positive aspects of starting school. It will be fun and he or she can make lasting friends. Let your child know that most kids are nervous about the first day of school.

9) Send a Short Note
Leave a note in your child’s lunch sack that will remind him or her that you’re thinking of them while they are at school. Reassure your child that if any problems arise at school, you will be there to help resolve them.

10) After-School Activities
Find out about after-school activities that your child can join. Will there be a back-to-school party? Can she or he join a special sports team?

Starting school may be a difficult time for both you and your child, so make sure that you choose an educational environment that will be a positive match for your child. If your child has autism, then enroll him or her in the Autism Academy to cater to their specific needs. Learn more about our mission to see if we’re the right fit for your child.