Category Archives: August

Back-To-School


Tip: Back-to-School Transition

The transition from summer vacation back-to-school can be very difficult for every child. The drastic change of routine and schedule can be especially challenging and tough for a child with Autism and their family! The carefree and laid back routine that has been established over the past 2-3 months is going to quickly change to one of structure and increased expectations. A new school year also brings a flood of novelty, which is many times a source of anxiety and stress for children with Autism. A new classroom, new teachers, new physical space, new friends and new routine and schedule can all be overwhelming to a child with Autism. Knowing these areas are a potential source of anxiety for your child helps you to be aware and proactive in providing strategies and techniques to help ease the stress of the transition.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Talk with your child about the transition – prepare your child for the changes in routine by talking about what they will be experiencing. Tell your child about the new classroom. Tell your child the name of some of his/her new classmates (if known ahead of time). Tell your child the name of his/her new teacher. Preparing your child for a major transition can drastically decrease negative behavior and eliminate the stress of novel situations caused by the “unknown”. Driving by or visiting the new school or classroom can also be very helpful.
  • Establish and maintain a morning routine – starting the day off right can make the difference for the rest of your child’s day at school. Establishing a morning routine that is predictable and positive will help eliminate unnecessary struggles and confusion. Make sure the morning routine is clear, understandable and consistent. Allowing for adequate time to complete the morning routine is vital! Running late and having to rush naturally increases stress and anxiety which is detrimental to a positive start. Allow for more time than needed then adjust as necessary.
  • Provide “downtime” for your child after school – even if it is just for a few minutes. We all know that a school day can be very demanding and challenging. Many times the expectations are much higher at school than they are at home. The majority of a child’s day at school is structured and under the leadership and direction of a teacher. Providing a designated amount of “downtime” when the child gets home is a good way for them to unwind and prepare for their afternoon/evening routines.

Back to school is an adjustment for everyone. Stay optimistic. Stay calm. Stay positive. Do everything you can to help reduce the stress level in your home during this transition. Remember, a calm mom and dad is better able to help a child create a smooth back-to-school transition. SMILE and face each day as an opportunity for your child to make progress and grow!! We at Impact Church are praying for you all this week!

Please share your back- to-school stories from this week at autism@impactchurchgso.com

 

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Provide Structure and a Predictable Routine


TIP: Provide Structure and a Predictable Routine

Everyone finds comfort in routine. Structure, schedules, procedures and routine all provide predictability to our, occasionally irregular and chaotic lives.  Routines and schedules help us organize and make sense out of the various random events of our day. Having these routines in place makes events foreseeable, which helps to reduce stress, confusion and anxiety. This need for dependability and routine is commonly even more necessary for children with Autism.  Research has provided evidence that many children with Autism thrive and are most successful when structure and routine are established at home and at school. These strategies can help to eliminate or decrease problem behavior and over-dependency in children with Autism. Here are a few tips to help establish and maintain structure within your home:

1. Develop a consistent routine for all daily activities (waking up, taking a bath, meal times, bedtime, going to school, etc.). Attempt to do the steps of these activities in the same order so it becomes routine and predictable to your child. For example, your bedtime routine could consist of reading a story, singing a song, tucking into bed, kissing goodnight, and then lights out.

2. Create a visual schedule to outline the events of the day. Based on your child’s level of functioning determine whether you should use objects, pictures, words or checklists to cue your child of the daily events. For example, in the morning during breakfast you may provide your child with a written schedule or checklist that says “Play in playroom, work, snack, outside, work, lunch”. This will allow your child to predict the day’s events and mark off each item as it is completed.

3. Provide preparatory commands prior to a transition from one activity to another. For example, if your child is in the bathtub and it is time to get out and get dressed for bed, say “In 3 minutes, we are getting out of the water and putting on our pajamas.” Prepare your child that the next step of their routine is coming.

We all know some circumstances will go beyond your control and will demand that the schedule be interrupted. If the routine or schedule needs to change, verbally prepare your child for that change and return to the routine as soon as possible.

Take it one step at a time. Implementing these strategies will result in your child’s success….and that makes it worth it! Share your thoughts or success at autism@impactchurchgso.com