A parent can do a number of things BEFORE school starts to get a leg up, instead of trying to extinguish fires during the year. Try to be proactive.
- Don't start talking about school during the summer, only near the end of the summer. Otherwise anxiety may start, and a cloud may loom for weeks of endless worrying. Take advatage of a restful summer as much as possible.
- Don't start anything new upon starting school. That goes for clubs, routines, medications, vitamins.
- Start getting the child into a routine for mornings again so its a habit of getting up and ready, instead of laying around in p.j.s all day. Get up at 7, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth all by 7:30.
- Make an appointment at the school to meet the Secretary and Principal one day. A few days later meet the Librarian and visit the Media Center. Next week go again and meet another staff member and ask for a tour. Visit the school 4-5 times before school starts. Check out the playground, cafeteria, gym, locker rooms. The more times your child visit the school, the more comfortable and confident he becomes. Find out where the buses line up, where the kids line up before school, what time lunch is. This will save a lot of anxiety and confusion for your child the first weeks if he knows ahead of time of these things. Because we did these things, has been a great first week of school for my son at his new school!
- Request the locker to be on the end of a row, and also to have no locker mate. This is almost an essential for the socially misunderstood child whom has a problem with sensory.
- Get a supply of these cool mechanical pencils. They are specially for kids who have handwriting issues. They are called Twist'nWrite. I found them at Holcombs Knowit Place, or on line. They are easy to grip unlike a long skinny pencil.
- Ask for your child to use a Alpha Smart or computer for written assignments. Experts including Tony Atwood, says to forget the handwriting all together, its the age of computers now anyways!
- Before school starts, have a short informal meeting including your child with your child's main teacher. If the teacher has not seen the child's file and IEP information, you can explain a little about ASD. Also talk about your concerns and the child's characteristics. You can even have a print out explaining about ASD so the teacher can review it for later. At that time, your child can ask questions about the classroom rules and you can ask about homework, etc. Its a good way to get started for the year, so you know both of you are on the same page. After that, I would let the teacher take the lead. You don't want to seem like an over bearing, yappy parent, and get off on the wrong foot, but you do want to be involved and take part in your child's education, and make sure your child gets what ever services he is entitled to.
- This was suggested to us by the Resource Room Teacher, although we haven't done this yet. Instead of lining up before school with the other children, the child would come directly into the school and wait in a certain room. Or during lunch time, have them eat lunch in the classroom instead of the lunchroom. For kids with sensory issues, this would be a great help to avoid these high stimulus times of the day.