BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS FOR PARENTS OF AUTISTIC STUDENTS
While your kid continues to enjoy the summer, you cannot avoid thinking about the new and upcoming school year. This is actually pretty normal and might be beneficial for both yourself and your child in the aspects of preparation and precaution. Unlike your home or your child’s playground, the school is an institution that implements rules and sanctions that must be strictly followed, which can oftentimes make it a more challenging and intimidating place for your kid. Preparing for a back to school activity requires you to look into many factors that can possibly cause problems for your autistic child. These factors depend on your kid’s autistic condition, such as sensory issues, behaviour, response to changes, social withdrawal, and communication difficulties. Determining what factors should be given priority is crucial in an effective and fruitful preparation that will surely help your child deal with back to school challenges. But if this is your child’s first back to school phase, it wouldn’t be unusual that you will have little no idea about what to do. By reading the following back to school tips that we have provided for responsible parents like you, your child will overcome this academic hurdle with ease.
Make the necessary research.
You cannot effectively prepare for your child’s future school program if you do not know what to expect. Learning the nature of your child’s next academic battleground is fundamental in helping them adjust smoothly to the transition. This includes determining if the school already knows about your child’s autism condition, if your child still needs extra support to effectively carry out the student responsibilities, and if it is possible to meet with your child’s teachers before the start of the next school year so you can make arrangements that are beneficial for all parties involved. Not only do these matters require your involvement as a parent, these are also crucial aspects in your child’s academic transitioning that when not given emphasis, will lead to a troubled school year ahead.
Observe the dress code.
Many schools impose a dress code program that must be strictly followed by its constituents. Even if your child has autism, it might not be good to push for exemption on the dress code because it can create the wrong interpretation on others (favouritism, special treatment, etc.), and promote dissent on the school regulations. It would be better to study the dress code and make the necessary adjustments on your child’s school outfit out from it. If the school introduces uniforms, you can have your kid wear a primary layer of deep-pressure inner shirt that acts as a calming tool. Wearing a weighted vest or a pressure jacket will most likely not violate the dress code as long as your child is wearing the uniform. There are also a lot of fashionable sensory jewellery that you can give to your children, such as the chewable necklace, brick bracelet, and spiky ring. The fabric of your child’s clothes must be seamless and without any button or zipper, as much as possible.
Make the school sensory friendly.
No matter how accommodating and supportive the teacher and classmates are to your child, your kid’s overall schooling may get hampered if there are still sensory factors present in the classroom and the campus. Sensory inputs such as bright lights, squeaking chalk, pungent food, and similar others can easily overwhelm an autistic student and trigger meltdowns if not quickly attended. To make sure that your child’s classroom is sensory-friendly, you have to visit the school and check the environment yourself. If there are indeed sensory inputs, talk to your child’s teacher about it and make necessary arrangements. It would be beneficial to both your child and the teacher if you provide a Break Box or Sensory Tool Kit to be used not only by your child but by all students inside the classroom.
Introduce exercise routines to your child.
The school is a very busy place that can easily drain a child’s energy. To improve your kid’s maximum stamina, body coordination and posture, introducing a simple exercise routine that can be done before going to school may provide very positive results. If your child is not a fan of exercises, try introducing games like trampoline hopping, a simple obstacle course, and climbing bars. These activities will jumpstart your child and make them active for the rest of the day which not only promotes better learning but also their interaction with other students.
Plan your child’s meals.
Getting ready for school days also includes developing a meal plan for your child. Your main goal is to provide highly nutritious food that will stimulate your child’s brain activities and boost their immune system. To overcome picky eating behaviour, try giving your child crunchy and chewy fruits and vegetables. This is the time to discourage eating junk food and sweets which can only increase your child’s sugar levels and the risk of reactive hypoglycemia or fatigue caused by high content of blood glucose.
Choose autism-friendly school supplies.
Many companies are now focusing on the special needs of children with disabilities and disorders in manufacturing their products to be distributed in the market. So if you are planning to buy new school supplies for your kid, do not just settle with the traditional ones, instead check if the store has an autism corner and proceed to purchase the products displayed in there. You might find special guiding papers, sensory-friendly pencils, and seamless, zipper-less backpacks.
Reduce your child’s gadget time and get him familiarized with a new schedule.
It is time to cut off your child’s access to iPad, cell phone, tablet, and other gadgets that they only use for games and entertainment. You might need to start implementing these new rules weeks before the start of school so that your child is given time to adjust. You must also develop a new schedule, have it printed or written in a visually helpful material and have your child familiarize it. It may also be helpful if you develop new routines designed for school days.