While it can be tempting to not even worry about back to school until late August or early September, this is a good time to remember that children on the spectrum often need extra time to adjust to a schedule change, even after a short time. This is especially true if your child hasn't had organized or structured summer activities since the school year has ended. With some practice and planning ahead, you can reduce the stress going back to school brings to your autistic child, and yourself in the process.
A normal sleep schedule
Using the last few weeks of the summer to get your child back on a normal sleep schedule is a good idea. If this already a part of their regular late summer routine, it will be an easier transition. Explain to them that it is good practice for when school starts. Depending on how long it takes your child to adjust to new changes will determine when you should start this practice. Adjust your child's sleep schedule by giving them an extra hour of sleep where they need it.
Visit the School
Visiting a new place prior to a major change happening is a common practice many parents use to ease a transition for their kids. While this is usually the only case for all-new surroundings, there is no harm in doing the same if they have been away from the environment for a while. In addition, a new school year often means a new schedule. This can also mean a new teacher. Set up a time to visit the new classroom before school starts, so your child can get used to his or her surroundings.
Get Supplies & School Clothes Early
One of the advantages of getting your school supplies in the summer is that the stores with not be flooded with other parents and students trying to do the same. This can reduce a ton of pressure off of both of you, and will also ensure your child has a greater selection if supplies to choose from. To make it even easier, why not order your school supplies online from Little Red Hen. Check out our selection of kids backpacks and totes. And save your child from the paper sacks by stopping by to see our collection of reusable lunch bags and snack containers, available in a variety of kid-friendly designs.
For very similar reasons, this is also a great time to get your shopping for school clothes for the school year done early. While you won't be able to take advantage of seasonal sales, shopping early will mean less crowded stores and will make special accommodations easier and faster.
Get a lunch buddy
While it sometimes can be difficult for kids on the spectrum, encourage them to make a new friend that they can hopefully share the same lunch period with. This can be a lifeline during early transitional times, and will also teach your child the importance of empathy and support.
Some simple changes and a mind for planning ahead get your child or teen on the spectrum ready for the upcoming school year, whether they are starting the next grade in elementary school or venturing into high school.