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10 Helpful Tips to Prepare Your Child with Autism for School

Starting school can be a difficult time for normal kids, let alone for a child who has limited cognitive, social and other developmental skills. Like other kids, children on the spectrum also feel the same excitement and anxiety. This change can be difficult for them: the scenery, the people, their responsibility as students, co-existing with others and so on. This often leads to sudden (and somehow negative) changes in behavior.

To gear your child up for the ‘first-day high’ of school, read on for these helpful tips and see if any of these suggestions will work with your child’s level of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

1. Create a social story to go along with the preparation. Pictures and video presentations prove to be effective channels to show children with ASD what school is like, how to go with the flow of the usual morning and afternoon routines and other school activities.

2. Make a creative list of the daily activities your child will have to perform from waking up to brushing their hair and brushing their teeth, walking or riding the bus to school, entering the classroom, etc. If possible, ask the school administration if it is okay for you and your child to look around campus before the first day of school.

3. Prepare a calendar complete with pictures. For example, indicate ‘lunchtime’ with the picture of the school cafeteria, indicate ‘toilet time’ with a comfort room and indicate ‘playtime’ with a picture of the school playground with children playing.

4. Before school officially starts, ask if it is okay for your child to meet their new teacher. Let the teacher and the school’s guidance counselor know about certain ‘special interest’ your child may have. Often, visiting school ahead of time and meeting the people your child will encounter head-on can ease their way into the transition.

5. Communicate. Whatever your child’s ASD level, it is imperative that you ask about what they are feeling. Engage them in the whole process. Their feelings should come first and foremost on this journey. Make your child feel secured and assured school is a safe haven. Instill happy thoughts in your child’s mind about meeting new friends. Your child may be socially challenged, but this does not negate the thought of feeling the same level of excitement in meeting new people.

6. Reassure your child that school is their second home. While you help resolve problems for your child at home, reassure your child that they now have an extra set of helping hands from their teacher (be specific with the name of the teacher to ensure your child is familiar with who the teacher is).

7. Check if there are kids in your neighborhood who will be attending the same classes or entering the same grade as your child. Sometimes letting your child connect to others before school starts can greatly eliminate unforeseen circumstances during transition.

8. Find out what after-school activities your child can join. Some sports activities are excellent activities for children with ASD.

9. Include your child’s therapist on the process of starting school. It is imperative that you are fully guided on every endeavor you pursue to ensure your child does not have a meltdown.

10. Be extra attentive. Some kids on the spectrum have a hard time coping with these sudden changes. Make sure to prioritize your child’s welfare before anything else.

Each child with Autism Spectrum Disorder has a different way of dealing with changes in their environment. These tips may prove to be effective but, like everything else in life, only you know what works best for your child.

Pamela is the author of an award-winning and No.1 bestseller book on Amazon, Living Autism Day by Day: Daily Reflections and Strategies to Give You Hope and Courage. She is also the mind behind the powerful website,, an online portal for parents, caregivers, individuals with ASD, service providers and experts to interact with each other, to raise awareness and locate the best possible services for them.



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