New Series Back to School: First Day at School Checklist

back to schoolFor most children in the northern hemisphere today is the day parent’s have been waiting for and kids dreading. Autism families are no different. This week, Autism Daily Newscast brings you a new series with some tips and suggestions to help you transverse the maze of week one and school.

Your child’s first day at school can be a nerve-racking experience for both – anxiety is much higher for an autistic child. You may be an old pro at this, but if not, here are some basic suggestions to get you started.

It is very easy to get caught up in your child’s first day of school which can be a nerve-racking experience for both parents and children. You can help to ensure your child gets off to a great start by making sure they are prepared and at ease as much as possible.

In order to help your child settle back into the routines he or she likes, it is a good idea to prepare your autistic child with a first day of school. This involves going over and probably over and over again what they will experience. Talk it through as many times as your child needs. The conversation is necessary if it is a new school or not. The new school term brings new classmates, teachers and rooms and can be very overwhelming for children on the spectrum.

This following checklist covers the basic information for the first day as well as instructions if your child should become disorientated.

* Make sure your child knows his or her teacher’s name. Perhaps write it down on a piece of paper. This will help ease the fears of not knowing where to go. If your child gets confused, another teacher can easily guide your child to the right place. If your child happens to forget their teacher’s name and can not remember it is written down, he or she can still get help from another teacher who will likely guide the child to the main office.

* Most schools send home a checklist of items that children will need to bring on their first day of school. Review the checklist and pack your child’s backpack a few days before school begins. You can double-check the backpack the night before to ensure your child has not removed any of the items (or added some for that matter).

* Sit down that morning and review with your child again what the first day of school is going to be like. Keep it simple at this time and explain in simple terms.  As a parent, your child relies on you to ease any fears she or he may have. Allow your child to ask the same questions again about their first day at school and answer them as best as you can.

* Often is it is important that you take your autistic child to school on that first day. Your child may feel more at ease if he or she has you to direct them to the proper location. Be aware that your child may experience acute anxiety when you have to leave and try to acknowledge privately to yourself that the experience may be hard on you as well.

* Make sure your child has an emergency contact card to present to the teachers. This card is important because it will have all of the necessary information for your child’s school to contact you should they need to. Also ensure that your child knows or has your home phone number written down. This way anyone in authority can contact you if the need arises.

Be sure to congratulate your child on a job well done after she or he arrives home.  Wait until he or she is ready to talk about the day without applying any pressure. Finally be prepared for a meltdown as your child may have been holding it all back until he or she has arrived to the safety of home.