Summer goes go by quickly. Before you know it the advertisements for back-to-school clothing and supplies pop up everywhere. If your child has autism or other special needs, advance planning will smooth the adjustment to a new grade, new teacher and maybe even a new school.
Organization really helps. Having a binder, folder or file box where you store all documentation – IEPs, letters and meeting notices – allows you to pick back up where you left off several months ago.
Three steps to ease the transition
First, review the IEP from the last school year. Look at when the IEP expires, so you can prepare if a reevaluation is coming up. Consider what worked well and what needs to change as your child has progressed and grown over the summer. Find out the names of staff who will be working with your child. Be proactive and contact them to discuss your child’s needs.
Second, you know how easily your child adapts to change. Start talking about the new school year now to reduce some of the back-to-school anxiety. Schedule a school visit, attend any back-to-school events and discuss some of the exciting classes or opportunities available this year. If your child is in middle school or high school, you’ll want to explain any special services or accommodations available.
Third, gradually start to shift the daily routine. During the summer, your child may have stayed up later or slept in. Start the bedtime routine 10 minutes earlier each night for a week or two and the transition will go smoother. Practice the school schedule.
Coordinating with new staff members may not always start smoothly. If you find your child begins to struggle and a new teacher or school is slow to respond, speak with a special education attorney to discuss possible solutions.