Opinion – New Year – The return back to school, a difficult time for children on the autism spectrum

childWell, this week heralds the start of a new school term and for many parents who have children on the autism spectrum,. This week will be an extremely anxious one for then, as well as for their children. Anxieties will be high with many children having great difficulties with the transition back into the school routine.

I am sat writing this and I can already feel my tension levels rising at just the thought of Wednesday morning, when my son will return back to his autism specific specialist school. Will he get dressed? Will he get in the taxi! How will he cope back at school with both his peers and teachers? But I have to stop myself from worrying. What will be will be.

He has coped remarkably well over the last two weeks and we have used visual timetables to help him with this transition. We are also extremely fortunate that my husband who is a teacher, returned back to school on Sunday while my eldest son Stephen, returns back to school on Tuesday. So in our case Tom will have a staggered start back to school, so he will be well prepared and have a gradual introduction back into school life. So far so good.

In the past when we haven’t mentioned his return to school, he has said that the school is on fire and that he will run home, but so far he has not mentioned this. However all joking aside, the first week back after a break of any length of time is usually a difficult time for those children with autism.

I vividly remember the first day back at school for Tom last January and we had an awful time getting him dressed and into the school taxi, so I have my fingers and  toes crossed for a much calmer start to his school year this time around.

New Year is also that time where we look back on the year and think about how our children have progressed and what the future may bring for them. From a personal viewpoint, all I want is for Tom to be happy and settled in school, which luckily at the moment he is. Therefore he is able to achieve to the best of his ability.  For many parents though, this is not the case, as their child is in the wrong school environment and with no specialist input. Autism Daily Newscast has reported on this serious issue many times.

New Year brings all of these emotions and feelings bubbling to the surface, as what will the year ahead bring for our children? What new research will be found, what therapies? We are on a constant learning curve, as our children also are.

Last year I wrote a piece about the hopes that parents have for their children, Parents Hopes for Autistic Children in 2014,

So for those parents out there whose children are returning back to school this week, I wish you luck and hope that the week is a settled one.

Happy New Year,

Jo