The first week of school is a great time to remind students and staffs about how challenging it is for classmates with Autism to transition, says this Wildwood resident and vice president of Autism Services for Life Skills.
School is starting this week and while most parents are helping their kids pick out their “back-to-school” outfit, some parents who have kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are helping them get through feeling frightened, confused, and stressed.
The first day of school is often difficult for children with an ASD, as it brings a change in routine, said Jeanne Marshall, a Wildwood resident and vice president of Autism Services for Life Skills.
“Meeting new people can be very challenging and students may feel anxious with sensory overload,” she said.
Marshall oversees all operations of the TouchPoint Autism Services division, including all programming, training and clinical assessments and therapies conducted by the agency, which serves more than 3,000 individuals on the autism spectrum in 95 counties across Missouri. She has been affiliated with TouchPoint since 1987 when she began volunteering and working as a classroom assistant.
Good ideas also can come from within. Some Rockwood School District students recently presented a month-by-month new program called REACH about increasing student awareness and acceptance of ASDs to Rockwood board of directors.
Life Skills Offers Helpful Tips for School Communities about ASD
Children with ASD need routine, predictability, and a set schedule. After summer break, getting back into a school routine can be difficult for some children, said Marshall.
Ron Ekstrand, president and chief operating officers of Life Skills, offers tips for easing children with ASD back into school:
- Start slowly. Change is difficult for people with ASD. Try to gradually introduce as many new things as you can before the first day of school so that the child has a chance to become familiar and comfortable with them. Begin slowly by introducing school uniforms, lunch boxes, backpacks, and other supplies as the new school year launches so that he or she can become familiar with everything.
- Communicate with your child’s school team. As parents, make sure the administration and your child’s teacher know you want to be involved and that you will work with them as a partner in your child’s education process.