Sun contributor and parent Jen Nardo suggests these considerations for helping your child or sibling with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) enter a new educational program:
• If the child is switching school buildings, drive by the new school a couple of times, take pictures to show your child, and ask if you can tour the building.
• Reach out to other parents or families of children with ASD. They might come up with ideas you haven’t thought of. And you’ll benefit from the support.
• To confirm the driver of your child’s school bus, call the school district’s transportation office. If a new transportation team is introduced, prep your child with verbal or visual prompts.
• Does your child need new school clothes or shoes? Buy them early enough so the child gets comfortable with the change. If the child will be wearing a uniform for the first time, have him or her try it on. Make sure the child knows these clothes are for school. And check the school’s website for details on the requirements.
• Is bedtime an issue after [a] break? Start the regular sleep-waking routine at least a week before school starts to ensure the child is well-rested.
• Create an informational sheet about the child for the child’s teacher. Include the names of family members and pets, likes and dislikes regarding food, activities, and other important details the teacher should know.
• Let the child know how well he or she will do at school. And reward the child for a good day at school: Perhaps a special piece of candy or a favorite snack would be appropriate.
• Think about making changes to the child’s routine. Depending on the child’s anxiety level, now may be a good time to replace bad habits with healthy ones.
Sun contributor Jen Nardo is a longtime parent-mentor, autism advocate, and newsletter committee member as well as the parent of two sons, one with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
This text was edited for consistency of language and message and appears in the July–September 2014 issue of the Autism DelawareSM quarterly newsletter, The Sun.