Preparing Children With Autism For Back to School Transition

Back to school tips for families that have children with autism

Posted by Kelley Prince, M.A., BCBA, President of Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay, Inc.

As the summer winds down, it is time to start thinking about getting our children prepared to return to school.  This is a difficult and challenging task for most families but, if you have a child with autism, heading back to school can be an anxiety-provoking transition.  In order to make it a more pleasurable experience for your entire family, I have developed a few helpful hints to ease this transition. 


First, it would be helpful to take pictures of the teacher, classroom and school in order to develop a social story for your child.  A social story is a short story that describes a situation, from the perspective of the child, and defines the appropriate behavioral responses within that situation.  The goal of a social story is to improve a child’s understanding of events and expectations, which tends to improve their behavior when placed in that environment.  For example, a back-to- school social story may include a statement such as, “On Monday, I will be in a new classroom with Mrs. Smith.  She is a very nice teacher and I will like her.”  This sentence can be accompanied by a picture of Mrs. Smith and can be read to the child several days prior to the return to school.


Another way to prepare your child with autism to return to school is to begin getting them back on their “school” sleep and feeding routine. This includes gradually fading back their bedtime beginning at least 1 week prior to the return to school. It would also be helpful to begin eating meals and snacks at the same time that the child would engage in these activities if school were in session. 


Since back-to-school time typically involves shopping for new clothes, it is important to remember that many children with autism also have characteristics of sensory integration disorder. Therefore, some of our children may be irritated by certain textures of clothing or by clothing tags. Therefore, it is important to understand these sensitivities prior to shopping for new clothing.   


Finally, since our children can be very complex individuals with a long medical and therapeutic history, it may be helpful to develop an “All About Me” book that can be shared with the teaching staff.  The book can include items such as the child’s strengths, weaknesses, their communication level, toileting schedule and abilities, behavior plans, dietary needs, allergies, preferences, and fears.  This will allow the teachers to get to know your child and to adjust the teaching environment to accommodate his/her needs.

If you follow a few of these suggestions, the transition from the lazy days of summer to the hustle and bustle of the school year will be smoother for your child and your family.  If you have any suggestions on future blogs, feel free to leave a comment below. Thank you for your interest!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

toni August 04, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Thanks for blogging on this topic. I had it in my list of to-do's to look up tips for transitioning back to school. I even checked your website earlier in the week and almost suggested that you put one out on the topic. I came to the patch today and there it was. Thank you for sharing!!!
Kelley Prince August 06, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Thank you for reading this! I will be posting different blogs on our website (www.bcotb.com) and Patch.com each week. I appreciate your feedback.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »