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Disability experts share the ABCs of going back to school

Disability experts share the ABCs of going back to school

St.Amant is a leader is service and support for children and adults with developmental disabilities and autism. As parents and teachers prepare for the upcoming school year, our clinicians have prepared a list of things parents and teachers can do to support a successful transition and a great start to the school year. Although these were written with kids with developmental disabilities in mind, they are great tools for most any anxious student.

Top 10 Things to Help Your Child Successfully Transition Back to School

1. Create an “All About Me” book, written from your child’s perspective, with the purpose of providing school staff with information about your child.

2. Schedule some visits to the school so that your child has the opportunity to familiarize themselves with their teachers, the layout of the school, their classroom, their workspace/cubby, etc.

3. Get your child back on a regular routine as soon as you can (e.g., getting up and going to bed at the same time). Starting this a week before school is back in session will help ease them back into their schedule.

4. During the first couple of weeks of school, pack foods that you know your child likes.  Too many changes during the first couple weeks may be too overwhelming for them and keeping food consistent may help your child settle into their environment more quickly.

5. Schedule an information sharing meeting with your child’s teacher to review what motivates your child, their strengths, situations your child struggles with, dietary restrictions, etc.

6. Discuss with the school team who the point of contact should be in case you have questions, concerns, or updates to share and what mode of communication would be best (e.g., email or phone call).

7. Consider using a communication book/log that travels between home and school to facilitate communicating between team members in a timely manner.

8. Determine with the school team what would be the ideal time for you to drop off and pick up your child during the first couple of weeks of school. The regular drop off and pick up times may be too chaotic and overwhelming for your child.

9. Take your child to the school’s playground and provide them with safety parameters/rules. Have them follow through with those rules.

10. Identify examples of what bullying may look like at school and what steps to take should they encounter a similar situation.

Top 5 Things to Help Your Student Successfully Transition Back to School

1. Create a social story for your student that includes information about their new school (e.g., name of school, their teachers, etc.). Try to include as many pictures as you can.

2. Identify potential peers who could pair up with your student to enhance their learning experiences; this should be mutually beneficial for both children. Have peers pair up and help each other through new activities during more unstructured times, such as recess or gym class, may be especially beneficial.

3. Create or modify visual supports that are tailored to your student’s needs. These may include more “global” type schedules (e.g., a schedule depicting full day events, sequenced in order) or may be task-specific (e.g., a schedule that depicts each of the steps involved in washing hands, or getting dressed for outdoors).

4. Consider the student’s needs when determining the location of the student’s desk and cubby. For example, for a student who tends to get easily distracted by peers, you may want to place them at a desk close to the front of the room to minimize distractions between them and the teacher.

5.Invite your student and their parents for a quick tour before the first day of school. The student would have the opportunity to check out their new environment (which school doors to enter, location of their desk, cubby, washrooms, etc.).

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