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Archived News: Across Virginia
September 2012

Tips for Back to School Success from VCU-ACE!

“They’re going back….” To school that is. While this can be an exciting time for parents, it can also be a time for anxiety about what the year has in store for your son or daughter on the Autism Spectrum. Preparing your child for school can be an overwhelming task, especially if he or she will be going to a new school. That being said, perhaps some tips can help set your mind at ease for the 2012-2013 school year and get the year off to a successful start.

1. Consider filling out an “individual profile” with as much of your son or daughters participation as possible. This form can be copied and shared with teachers, administration, and therapists prior to the start of the school year so that there is a common knowledge of “who” your child is. Send in a recent picture of your child doing an activity that they enjoy with the profile.

2. Include your child in purchasing items for school. For example, clothing, folders, backpacks and lunchboxes. Giving your child a choice in what they will take and wear to school will help them feel some control over a potentially stressful transition time.

3. Have you all been staying awake this summer a little later than you would during the school year? If so, re-set sleep patterns and establish a structured night-time routine before school starts. Gradually move to earlier bedtimes and wake-up times. Also start a more structured morning routine. Remember checklists, picture schedules, reminders, and alarms are helpful tools to use for your son and daughter to learn to be more independent. Setting an alarm to wake up, takes you out of it, and can be the “prompt” to start the morning routine.

4. If possible, try to arrange a visit to the new classroom so that your child will know where to go on the first day. Take pictures of the key areas that they will transition to (classroom, lunchroom, library, bathroom, etc.) so that they can review them prior to school starting, and in the early days of school. If your son or daughter is moving to Middle or High School, make sure they know where all of their classes are, their locker is, and the combination if possible. You can take a video of your son or daughter walking through the halls, labeling the classes for him or her if needed. This video can be replayed so that he or she will know the “flow” of his or her schedule. As far as a locker goes… get a practice combination lock and practice prior to school starting. If possible, decorate the locker prior to the start of the school year. Include your child in this process. A locker can serve two key purposes: 1. It can hold cue cards of things that he or she needs to remember for the day or pack up at the end of the day, and 2. If there is a calming item or pictures, they can be posted in the locker as a visual reminder to relax.

5. Organization… oh my! Color-coordinate as much as possible. If there is a subject that has a book, notebook, and folder- have them all be the same color. For example, a Green sticker on the math book, with a green folder, and a green notebook. So if there is math homework, all “Green” items will be grabbed and taken home. You can also request for a set of school books to remain at home to minimize the amount of items that need to be carried to and/ or forgotten at school.

6. For students who have a hard time remembering what they have for homework, and don’t always write the information down in their agendas, consider having them email their homework to themselves or a parent as they receive it in class. Another option is to use a digital audio recorder that they can recite the homework into, and play back at the end of the day… “Math page 104 even problems, Science –study for test on Friday, remember permission slip” etc.

7. Prepare your home for homework! 1. Establish a routine for homework. (e.g., First snack, then bathroom, next math, then reading, 5 min break, then social studies, then check in with mom or dad.) 2. Let children choose where they are most comfortable doing homework, as long as it is not in front of the TV or other distractions. 3. Have a homework supply box available with the necessary “tools” to cut down on wasting time looking for things. 4. Limit distractions. 5. Encourage independence!

8. Make sure communication is open and honest between teachers and parents. Establish clear boundaries about communication, including frequency, type of communication, and necessary actions (follow-ups).

9. If your child will be riding the bus, and the sounds of the bus bother him or her, consider providing headphones for the ride. Also, the bus is a time for socialization as well as exclusion and bullying… make sure that your son or daughter knows what to do if this happens to him or her (e.g., tell the bus driver, tell mom or dad, tell a teacher, etc.).

10. Remember visual supports and positive reinforcement go a long way. Set your child up for success with the supports they need at home (e.g., morning, nighttime, homework routines) and school. When they demonstrate ease of transition, completion of an activity with success and/or independence, reinforce them!


Happy Back-to-School! And have a very successful and productive school year.

Staci Carr, VCU-ACE, August 2012

 

A Full Day with Brenda Smith Myles! Insight 2012 is on October 19 & 20! Register Today!

Insight Conference Agenda

Friday October 19, 2012 from 9:00 am– 4:00 pm

Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown

Morning Session: Strategies and Supports to Address the Hidden Curriculum

This session will begin with a brief introduction to the hidden curriculum followed by an overview of how to use ecological assessment to prioritize needs and a discussion of instructional and support strategies to support acquisition of the hidden curriculum. Methods of applying the strategy across environments will be highlighted.

Afternoon Session: Strategies for Students with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome Who Experience Difficult Moments

Stress, anxiety, and self-regulation challenges are common for learners with high functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger Syndrome and are considered to be the most frequently observed characteristics in these individuals. The stress experienced by individuals with HFA/AS may manifest itself in many ways, but it sometimes leads to tantrums, rage, and meltdowns. This escalating sequence seems to follow a three-stage cycle: (a) rumbling, (b) rage, and (c) recovery. This session will overview the cycle and discuss strategies that can be used at each stage. In addi-tion, prevention strategies will be discussed. Because of the combination of innate stress and anxi-ety and the difficulty that children and youth with HFA/AS have in understanding how they feel, it is important that those who work and live with them understand the cycle of tantrums, rage, and melt-downs as well as interventions that can be used during this cycle.

Friday Evening October 19, 2012 from 7:00 pm– 9:00 pm

River Road United Methodist Church

Parent Support Group Session: Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns

Children and youth with high functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger Syndrome experience stress that may manifest itself as tantrums, rage, and meltdowns. Meltdowns follow a three-stage cycle: (a) rumbling, (b) rage, and (c) recovery. This session will overview the cycle and discuss strategies that can be used at each stage. In addition, prevention strategies will be discussed.

Because of the combination of innate stress and anxiety and the difficulty that children and youth with HFA/AS have in understanding how they feel, it is important that those who work and live with them understand the cycle of tantrums, rage, and meltdowns as well as interventions that can be used during this cycle.

Saturday Morning October 20, 2012 from 9:00 am– 2:00 pm

River Road United Methodist Church

Family Focus Session: Preparing for Transitions to Middle School and High School

This session will begin with a brief overview of the middle and high school experience and the stress that transitions into these school settings can cause for learners on the autism spectrum. A transition checklist and an easy-to-use method of documenting support needs across environments will be discussed. Examples will also be provided.

Registration information for each event can be found here.

More information:

Online Registration and Information

 

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