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new school year Summer has been full of fun, relaxation, and swimming. But now all this is about to change as summer is coming to an end. Back-to-school ads started back in July, a sign that the new school year is just around the corner.

Transitions can be hard for individuals with autism and other isms. Just as they are getting used to the summer schedule, it is over. After being on a somewhat unstructured schedule for three months, the structured school year is around the corner and transitioning can be challenging.  Going back to school can be a stressful time, but it does not have to be!

There are many steps that parents can take to help make the transition back to school easier for their child.

Let Your Child Pick Out School Supplies for the New School Year

Make going back to school more fun by allowing your child to pick out some of their own school supplies. Let them help you with the shopping as much as possible. Even if the teacher has a specific school supply list, your child can still pick out some supplies, such as a backpack, lunchbox, folders, notebooks, binders or pencils.

This will help make them a little bit more excited to go back to school, because they will have special new school supplies to show their new teacher and classmates. It may help take their mind off of the stress that going back to school and getting back into the school routine can bring.

Contact Your Child’s New Teacher for the New School Year

Call or e-mail your child’s new teacher(s), introducing yourself and your child. Tell them about your child’s special-isms, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. Let them know what they can do to help make both the transition back to school and the school year itself go more smoothly.

Teachers, take advantage of this opportunity and glean any insightful information from the parents.  Parents can help you set the right tone at the start of the year that will lead to success for the rest of the year.

Visit the New Classroom for the New School Year

Even though some elementary schools may have an open house before school starts, these can be very overwhelming as many people are in the school building at one time.

Talk to your child’s teacher to see if you can set up an appointment to allow your child to meet their teacher and see their classroom. This opportunity will allow your child to avoid the more overwhelming open house event and give your child the opportunity to see their new environment before school starts, which goes a long way in reducing anxiety.

Seek Out the Schedule for the New School Year

Ask your child’s teacher for a schedule for the first day of school. This will make the first day less scary for your child by eliminating some of the first day jitters, simply by letting him know what to expect.

Create a Social Story for the New School Year

If your child will have a new paraprofessional, aide, or therapists, it may be a good idea to ask the teacher for pictures of these individuals, and the child’s classmates, if possible.

The pictures can be used to make a photo album or to be included in a social story.

Pictures of your child’s new classroom or new school environment can also be included in the photo album or social story as well.

This will help your child ease into the school year, especially if they are moving to a new classroom or starting at a new school.

Ease the Transition to a New School Year

If your child or teen with with various isms will be starting a middle school or high school and will be changing classes, call the school to see if you can make arrangements to get their daily schedule ahead of time.

Some schools do not pass out student’s schedules until the first day of school and this can end up being overwhelming to some kids.  Not knowing the schedule until the first day of school can be a cause of great anxiety for those with various isms.

See if a special education teacher, aide, or perhaps an older student can go into the school and walk your middle or highschooler through his schedule. Make sure to discuss what would be the best times for your child to stop at their locker between classes.

Schedule Locker Practice

If your child or teen will have to use a locker at school, make sure to have a lock that your child can practice with ahead of time. Locks come in all different types and styles, so pick the one that works best for your child.

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Timers for Transitions

If your child will have a certain amount of time to transition between classes, set a timer, and allow your child to see how much time they have to switch classes.

Even though five minutes can seem like a short amount of time, it really is a reasonable amount of time. If switching classes makes your child anxious, talk to their special education teacher or counselor ahead of time, to see if they can make temporary accommodations through the transition of back to school.

I hope that the transition back to school goes smoothly for you and your child(ren). Most importantly, continue to talk about summer ending and school starting, so that your child is gradually prepared for what is going to happen.