Want your child to have a school year to brag about? Of course you do.
Here are some tips on how to prepare a child on the Autism Spectrum for the upcoming school year:
Pre-teach Rituals and Routines
To the extent you can gather information about the rituals and routines your child’s teacher will follow (e.g., having your child sit on a carpet square during circle time, or, require them to sit Indian-style upon hearing the phrase “Criss-cross apple sauce”), you will want to pre-teach your child to follow the instructions they may encounter in the classroom.
Prime with Pictures and Narrative
Gather pictures of the teacher, the principal, the school nurse, the therapists your child will work with (e.g., the Speech and Language Pathologist), the school building, and the playground. Use the pictures to support the stories you tell your child about the people she will meet and the places she will go. Create narratives (e.g., text-based information) that your child can read, or listen to, in order to prepare for their school experience.
Equip your child with a visual or narrative-based schedule (a hard copy or one displayed on a tablet, iPad, or Smart Phone if allowed) and plan to promote their independence. Outfit your child with their essential communication materials, for example, a Language Master, their Picture Exchange Communication System, or Proloquo2Go to facilitate their ability to communicate. Use a Silent Reminder device to prompt personal hygiene routines.
Communicate Rules around Electronics
If your child has an affinity for electronics (e.g., their iPad, hand held gaming devices, classroom computers), be sure that you gather information about the “rules” centered on such devices in the classroom, and to the extent possible, prepare your child to honor the rules. Avoid situations where your child may be frustrated as a result of being sent to school with an electronic device only to learn that the use of the devise is restricted.
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