Back to School for Kids with Autism and Special Needs

It may feel like mid summer but schools are getting ready for a new school year. Whereas summer may mean a more relaxed schedule, time to explore different interests and meet new friends; school brings more structure, routine and a steady pace. If you haven’t already, you will soon be receiving school supply lists and other important information from your child’s school. Be sure to out as much as you can about your child’s upcoming school year. Will they need extra support? Is the school aware of their challenges? Can you meet with your child’s teacher(s) before school starts so you can set a game plan that is comfortable for everyone.

Now is the time to prepare. An “ounce” of preparation can go far! Lets take a look at supplies, routine and dress BEFORE your kids start out to school this year so you can send them back to school with SENSORY SMARTS and SENSORY POWER!

1)   Dress for Success: Does your school have a dress code? Makes sure you include the “Dress for Success” code too: a calming deep pressure shirt which can be worn alone, under a vest, or under a school uniform; weighted or pressure vest to be worn in intervals or during mores stressful times; seamless under garments with no tags; backpack that is easy to manage; fidgets to keep handy when needed; and perhaps a weighted cap.

2)   Sensory Breaks: If you child needs sensory breaks, is the school set up? Perhaps a meeting and a bit of “sensory room” education may not only help your child but many others. Does your child’s classroom have a Break Box? This may be a good time to suggest one for your child’s classroom. The teacher may really appreciate the gift!

3)   Routines: Take a look at your morning and afternoon routines. A bit of coordination and movement either before getting in the car or bus may prove highly beneficial. Do you have some sensory motor tools at home that you can set up? A trampoline? An obstacle course? A swing?

4)   Electronic Slow Down: Start minimizing electronics. They can be great for use at certain intervals but if your child is on them too much, it can cause a difficult transition back to school. Try setting scheduled times.

5)   Brain Power: Plan some menus that will boost up your child’s brain and immune system. If you send in snacks or lunch consider some sensory foods that are crunchy and chewy such as celery, apples and carrot sticks. Stay away from packing sweets, which can spike sugar levels and cause a mid day crash.

6)   School Supplies: In addition to pencils and glue for school supplies, your child may benefit from adaptive paper, pencil grips or a wobbly cushion.  These items may or may not be on your school supply list, so be sure to check with the school if you feel your child would benefit from using them.

7)   Practice School: Begin a little bit of scheduled “work time” during the afternoon for reading, math or other subjects.

8)   Show Off Your Schedule: Create a morning and afternoon schedule and post it up on the wall so everyone is aware.

9)    Positive Attitude: Keep and upbeat attitude about school starting and make sure you check in with your child’s teacher(s) a week or two after school starts if a meeting is not already in place.

Have a wonderful school year!!


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