Reentering a routine after a significant amount of time off can make anyone feel uncomfortable or even disoriented. This feeling can be even worse for an autistic child. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) thrive in routine, and the excitement of a holiday or summer break from school can be as tricky as it is joyful. As parents, we all want to do our best to prepare our kids and enable them to thrive. Here are some things you can do to prepare your child as they are reintroduced to school.
Reestablish Morning And Evening Routines
Precise, repeatable routines are essential for children with ASD. They make them feel safe and enable them to move through the world less stressed. There’s a good chance that your normal school year routines were interrupted during the holiday break. You were eating different foods, participating in different family activities, and maybe even going to bed later. Now is the time to begin re-introducing those essential daily routines that create an environment where your autistic child knows what to expect and what is expected of them. The more lead time you can give them before the break ends, the better they will respond.
In addition to re-introducing morning and evening routines in your household, it’s essential to review with your child what the expectations will be of them when they return to school. The chances are good that the rules in your home were a little more relaxed during the holidays. That’s completely normal, and many children will just need to be reminded of the normal household and classroom rules.
An excellent way to prepare your child for re-entering the classroom is by roleplaying with them how they can respond in behavior or with words to specific situations, including social interactions, classroom norms, and how to respond when receiving critical feedback. Roleplay scenarios can be as simple as reminding your child to greet their teacher when they enter the classroom or to raise their hand and wait to be called on before speaking.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s not easy getting back into a routine after weeks off. Even adults struggle with this type of transition. Take the pressure off of yourself and your child by setting realistic expectations. Morning routine may require extra patience for the first few days, and you may find your child struggling in the classroom. But, in good time, everyone will be reacclimated and back on track.
Get Support From Teachers and Administrators
Are you feeling overwhelmed by this transition back to school? Perhaps you anticipate your autistic child will struggle? We highly recommend parents forge collaborative relationships with their children’s teachers and administrators. These connections are helpful all year round and can give you confidence knowing that your child has a supportive team waiting for them on their return to school. If you haven’t yet, reach out to your child’s teacher and start a discussion about how you can team up in support of your child’s success now and every day.
The countdown to the holidays is one of the most joyful days of the year for most families. But they can also really throw us off our routines! We hope this article has provided you with valuable tips to help you reinstitute routines that will support your autistic child’s social and academic success.
One of the greatest tools we’ve found to support the long-term success of children with ASD and their families is ABA Therapy. Our highly trained and compassionate therapists would love to help make life easier for your child. Contact our office today to learn more about our services.