Guest Post by Dr. Susan Larson Kidd
Although this is a very exciting time of year, it also causes anxiety levels to sky rocket. Kids on the spectrum especially have a difficult time going back to school after summer, going to a new school, going to school for the first time, or riding the school bus.
Here are some tips that we have found to be helpful to families for kids on the spectrum during back-to-school time:
Create a social story—use photos of the school, hallway, school bathroom, school playground, lunchroom, gym, classroom and teachers if possible. This will visually help the child to know what to expect in his/her school surroundings. For help with social stories, go to Carol Gray's website for ideas.
Visit the school a few times when it isn’t full of people. Take your child and walk the pathways he/she may use during the day. This is a good time to take the photos you need for your social story, and for your child to experience some of the sounds and smells of the environment a little bit at a time.
If the child is terrified of school, work at going to school little-by-little, step-by-step. For example: Get ready routine, walk to bus stop, ride the bus to school, get off the bus, find classroom, put belongings in cubby, enter classroom and greet teacher, etc. Make a visual checklist for the child and add one more small step each day. Also, ride the bus or ask an OT or teacher to do so to experience what your child will experience. It might be important to help your child cope with some of the sensory aspects of his or her bus ride if this is hard.