It’s only around the corner, back to school time.
Or for some children and families it’s the start of primary school, secondary school or a new school.
Families are busy organising their children with books, uniforms etc.
For families who have a child on the autism spectrum its takes a lot more preparation ,so have a few tips below from one of our parents.
Creating a social story about your child’s school
There are a lot of apps and programs to create a social story or just use a Word based program or get your child involved by creating a template and getting them to stick in the pictures
If you can get a photo of your child’s teacher and or Special needs assistant if he / she will have one
Picture of the school both inside and out
Don’t forget to include the school bus if your child is going to be using the Free School Transport scheme for children with special needs, who will be on the bus etc.
If you aren’t aware of the school transport scheme contact your school for details, terms and conditions do apply.
If you have an older child at second level and if they have and can operated a smart phone may be worth creating a map of their classes in school .
Communication is key
If possible check with your school if you can meet the Teacher before school starts
Create a list of what your child’ triggers are, what creates anxiety for them. What works to help calm them down?
While your teacher will get to know your child over time, having this information to hand for your child’s teacher and or special needs assistance can give them a head start in helping your child to adjust to school
Ask your school about using a communication book for you and your child’s teacher
A communication book is just a notebook allowing you to communicate any issues your child may be having, concerns you have.
But also is a way of your child’s teacher being able to communicate how your child coped during the way, if he/she ran into any difficulty or any issues come up.
Keeping communication open all the time is key to your child’s progress. If something does happen that upsets your or your child get the facts first. Deal with any issues as soon as they arise and bring them up with the school. Check with your school on their policy of who you go to if you have a concern or if there is something you aren’t happy with.
Most schools and teachers want the best for your child. Having a team approach with your school being open to change on both sides can help a positive relationship with your child’s school. Having a communication book is especially important is your child is using the school transport scheme.
Keep your school in the loop with your child’s autism team with any updates or new information. If you are due to meet with any of your child’s team worth checking with your teacher if they have any concerns they would like you to bring up with the team member relevant to your child e.g. speech , sensory needs etc.
If you child has sensory difficulties with the uniform material speak to school principal and see what is allowed or if there is flexibility
A lot of schools use school uniforms. Some also have a separate uniform for PE
Some schools may be a bit more flexible in their uniform policy and may allow your child on the autism spectrum to wear the PE uniform only if they find it more comfortable.
If you child has some sensory issues with the uniform check your Child’s Occupational Therapist for some suggestions that may help.
Packing a good lunch that your child will eat with enough liquids
Using easy to open lunch boxes.
If your child is on a special diet please let your school know or if they have any allergies
Making sure you have your contact details up to date with the school. If you are unwell yourself and another family member is taking care of your child let the school know.
It is important that the school has a way of contacting a parent or family member while your child is in school. Any child can get sick, but children on the autism spectrum may also have a day they are overwhelmed etc., where they just need their Mum, Dad etc.
Enjoy and take your time
School is a huge change in your child’s life whether it be the start of school or a new school or new teacher.
School can be a hugely positive influence on your child’s confidence and learning to be able to look to others apart from their parents or guardians to help them find their own feet. All children have potential. Working through a child’s strengths helps create confidence in themselves.
School gives routine and more structure to a lot of our kids’ lives. It can be a way to make friends and is one the main parts of our children’s social worlds.
Try not to worry too much. It’s okay to make mistakes and as parents when your child starts school it can be hard to let go a little bit as we are so protective of our kids, they are vulnerable but they have strengths too. They will surprise you too.
Your child’s time spent at school is an opportunity to take some time for yourself their parent or carer .Self-care is not selfish is essential . As Parents/Carers we need time to recharge, unwind or just talk. Whether it be just go for a walk, attend a class or meet a friend.
While you are a parent/carer you deserve time for yourself too. It’s okay to be kind to yourself.