As we slowly approach the start of the new school year, (next Monday) many parents with autistic kids grow a bit more anxious.
Although Amin had only 20 days off from school during summer, 10 days at the beginning of the summer and 10 days at the end of summer school, I have some degree of uncertainty sending him back.
Today we had “Meet the Teacher Day”. It is confirmed that he will get a new teacher this time. I am certainly saddened because I know he liked his old teacher, but at the same time I am happy with his new teacher too. We know her since he started this school, and she worked with him on and off. She is very skilled, loving and full of energy which will benefit Amin a great deal. Still, the experience of the public school and changing teachers has not completely faded from my mind. God-willing he will be excellent.
Teachers can be the best of allies, making autistic children successful at school and keeping them safe, but this cannot happen without parents supplying them with important information.
Let the teacher know about what medication they take, what can upset them (like noise, smell, or some other activities). What therapy they receive, and on which days. Inform the teacher about any changes in the family life and/or routine.
Furthermore, to help him transition into the new class room, we spent plenty of time exploring it. The teacher showed us all the items that Amin is the most interested in, and he seemed very relaxed seeing that his familiar items are still there. Also, a major plus in this new class room is that his learning partner will be one of the little girls that he always liked playing with a lot, and they will be sitting right next to each other as well.
I really appreciated his new teacher playing with him with his most favorite toys, and reciting his favorite songs. He seemed to feel right at home.
As we all know one of the hallmark symptoms of autism is the strict schedule/routine. Any time if there is any change in the routine, problems can arise and meltdowns can occur.
I started applying some of the techniques that would help him ease into the new school year.
Amin is more of a visual child, and I can accomplish more with him when I introduce something that he can see. We starting to count down the days, and mark the calendar with an “X” for each day. He seem to liked that and we confirm how many more days he has until he goes back to school. I think for him, seeing the school and the actual class room with his seat personalized, helped him to understand that it is time to go back to school.
We are going to go back to school shopping for clothes and he will have another haircut too. I take him to “Cool Cuts for Kids”. This place is awesome, and they have two staff members that are very familiar with autistic kids and they do really well cutting their hair.
Also, the children can sit in special seats, like a police car, or fire truck while they watch their favorite movie, as they get their hair cuts.
For the children who get therapies outside of school like Amin, it can be challenging to get an appointment after school. I was able to get an appointment from his therapy place that accommodated his needs, and didn’t interfere with his school hours, and I kept it during the summer vacation as well. Now, since he is going back to school, he is still able to get his therapy at a reasonable time.
This time of the year can be very exciting, mixed with a bit of an anxiety, but I firmly believe if we plan ahead we can always make the back to school experience pleasant.