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10 Ways to Ease the Transition Back to School for Children with ASD or Neurodevelopmental Disorders

August is well underway, which means it’s almost time to come back to school! We are so thrilled to be having all of our Spectra family back under one roof; however, we are also aware of how important schedules are to some. To help with the transition, we have compiled a list of helpful tips and tricks to get your Spectra Superstars back into school mode and ready for the new year!

We recommend taking these activities at your own pace and encouraging verbalization of one’s emotions when we start to feel overwhelmed.

  1. Consider the developmental level and chronological age of your child. With younger children, concrete and simple explanations are preferred. Avoid abstract language and over-explaining. Listen carefully to your child’s specific concerns and tailor your response to them.

  2. Cross dates off on the calendar. This is a great way to count down to the first day of school.

  3. Reestablish bedtime and waking routines as soon as possible. Gradually adjusting the time your kiddo or young adult goes to sleep and wakes up so that it aligns with the school schedule is a great way to ease the transition into a new routine. Have your child get dressed, eat breakfast, etc. after waking up and start to follow a bedtime routine again as soon as possible.

  4. Practice wearing school clothes. It's important to have your child practice wearing school clothes and shoes before the new school year begins. Clothing textures, tags, and shoes add another sensory challenge that can exacerbate difficulties associated with transitioning back to school. Start slowly by having your child wear shoes with their preferred clothes, adding their favorite shirt, and eventually working up to a full school outfit.

  5. Practice Consistency and Predictability. Following the same routine, patterns, and driving routes will lessen the stress during the transitions.

  6. If your child has sensory sensitivities, make sure they have a favorite sensory item available from the first day. For kiddos and young adults who are susceptible to sensory overload, certain objects can offer a great deal of comfort. Make sure your child will have at least one available at all times.

  7. Provide a visual schedule. Include a daily visual schedule as part of your child’s daily routine to help prepare them for transitions before they occur. Visual schedules provide your child or young adult with visual cues of what's to come while also providing them with a plan for the day.

  8. Communicate with teachers or other school professionals. This helps with having similar routines, using the same vocabulary across the two different environments, and learning from each other what works best for each individual in particular situations.

  9. Manage your own anxiety. Managing your own anxiety with the transition back to school is essential considering how sensitive we are to these emotions. Adults’ ability to cope with uncertainty directly impacts children's ability to cope. Be sure to always practice self-care and communicate frustration to other adults when there are no children around.

  10. Ask for help. Requesting assistance shows that you are willing to learn and to try new things to help your child.

We could not have compiled this list without the help of some awesome online resources. Their sourced material can be accessed via the links below:

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