It seems like you just went through the transition from school to summer and now that your child has finally gotten settled in his new routine, it is time to begin helping him transition to into “back to school” mode. This can be an especially challenging time if your child is moving to a different level, such as going from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school. As a parent, you can help your child with Asperger’s syndrome begin the transition and make the first days of the new school year calmer for everyone.
Begin introducing school day routines. If your child has gotten into the habit of going to bed later and sleeping in each morning, start adjusting the routine slowly. Have him go to bed a few minutes earlier each night and wake up a little earlier throughout the month before the first day of school. By the time school starts, he will be ready for his new daily routine.
Prepare information to share with new teachers. Understanding your child’s strengths and weaknesses helps when talking with teachers and explaining how your child learns and what will help in the classroom. Dr. Paula Kluth, in an interview on AutismSpeaks.org, suggests creating a student portfolio, and having older students help create their own portfolio, including information about strengths, needs, preferences and tips for “how to teach & reach me.” 
Talk about what will be new this year. Children with AS sometimes have a problem adapting to change. Before your child heads off on the first day of school, make a list of what will be new and different this year. It may be a new teacher, changing classrooms, a completely new school. You might look for a picture of the new teacher, arrange a tour of the school, set a time to meet the teacher and other personnel your child will come in contact with, visit the school to walk through your child’s schedule or take steps to meet some of the students in your child’s class. Taking pictures of the school as you take a tour that your child can look at once at home may help him feel more comfortable on the first day.
Work on strategies for dealing with the unexpected. The new school year, especially the first few days, are bound to bring some unexpected situations. Your child may have a hard time and meltdowns may be more frequent during these times of stress. Coming up with ways your child can deal with the frustration when things don’t go as planned will let him feel he has more control over the situation.
Go over hidden social rules. As your child moves from grade to grade, social rules change, especially as he moves from elementary school to middle school or from middle school to high school. Prepare your child for the changing dynamics of friendships and go over phrases and figures of speech the same-age children may be using.
Talk about disclosing AS to other students. As your child matures, he may have different ideas as to who he wants to know about his diagnosis and what he wants them to know. Talk about what he is comfortable sharing and role-play different ways of sharing this information. Some children may prefer to create a presentation explaining AS and how it impacts their daily life and then sharing this presentation with the class.
Keep stress levels low at home. During the final weeks before school starts, you may worry and feel the stress of trying to get everything done including getting information together for a new IEP or Section 504 and shopping for supplies. Take a deep breath and remember everything will get done. Your child with AS probably picks up on your stress and will be calmer if you are calmer.
Prepare your child for before and after school. Go over how your child will get to school, what is appropriate behavior when standing at the bus stop, what his bus number is, where the picks him up after school. Write down pertinent information in your child’s notebook or on a paper he can keep in his back pack. He will feel less flustered if he knows exactly what to expect.
“Getting Ready for School,” Date Unknown, Interview with Paula Kluth, Ph.D., AutismSpeaks.org
“Transitioning Back to School: 5 Tips for Parents,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Organization for Autism Research
Published On: July 26, 2012