Help your autistic child succeed with these back-to-school tips


Around the country, parents and kids are preparing to head back to the classroom – which can be equally exciting and nerve-racking!

At Alliance ABA, we recognize that the classroom isn’t just about learning the traditional subjects of math, science and history; it’s about navigation of social circumstances too. We’re here to help, of course, but we thought this checklist might be helpful for you and your child as you step back to school and another year of fantastic opportunities.

1. Plan, plan, plan.

Whether it’s practicing getting on the school bus, finding ways around a new school, or scheduling time with friends, planning is so important for autistic families. The cognitive ability to plan helps kids perform adaptive behavior, meaning that doing things like creating schedules (and sticking to them), drafting to-do lists (and checking things off as they’re completed), and feeling a sense of organization to each and every day helps kids feel empowered and safe.

2. Move it!

For kids with autism, physical activity is necessary and beneficial. Exercise – especially organized exercise – can help them with coordination, strength, and overall fitness, not to mention body awareness. Kids who stim may find comfort in exercise too.

Further to the personal, physical benefits of exercise, joining a recreational, house or casual sports program can not only help your autistic child remain physically active, they may discover new friends, new ways to be social. Exercise can be therapeutic in so many more ways than just one.

3. Seek support.

If your child is of school-age, you may be able to coordinate with school administrators for an individualized education program, or an IEP. The IEP is designed specifically for a child’s needs, including therapy for behavior, sensory, or language concerns.

It’s important to note that not all autistic kids need an individualized education program. There may be other education plans that can provide accommodations in a regular childhood that will help your child feel supported throughout the year, acknowledging their own personal learning needs.

Further to this, make sure that you yourself are finding a great network of supporters who can help you when you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed.

4. Talk it out.

Many kids, autistic or not, at one point or another feel isolated, left out, confused or alone at school. Autistic kids specifically often have trouble relating or connecting to their peers, which can bring about emotions they may not be able to verbalize, explain or even understand.

Make sure you’re addressing your child’s emotional needs, and pay attention to details like unexplained crying or outbursts, a radically changed appetite, or insomnia. Your child may beg not to go to school. Such behaviors may be warning signs of something much deeper – you’ll want your child to hear it clearly from you that you’re there for them no matter what.

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