Sep 1, 2014


Kyle: Going back to school can be a tough time, both for kids and parents, but especially if your child has autism. Today, we're going to talk about a few things to prepare both your child and the school to have a successful school year. Coming up next on The Scope.

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Kyle: My name is Dr. Kyle Bradford Jones. I'm a family physician at the University of Utah where I practice at the Neurobehavior Home Program. Going back to school can be a tough time, both for kids and their parents, especially if their child has autism. Today, we're going to talk about a few things that as parents you can keep in mind to help prepare both your child and the school for a successful year.

First of all, talking with your child's teacher as soon as possible to prepare them so that they understand the needs of your child. They should understand what may be some triggers that would set off some inappropriate behavior, but also what's the best way to handle those, or to de-escalate those behaviors when they happen. Those are very important for the teachers to be aware of so that they know how to best and most safely care for your child during the year and help them with learning.

Other things can be taking the child to the school a couple of weeks ahead of time. If you're a parent of a child with autism, you are aware that they are very much into their routines, so new places and new things can be very difficult. Taking them early so that they can get comfortable with the environment, with the school classroom, so that they can meet the teacher and so they can understand a little more what is going to happen. Make sure that they are comfortable in that environment.

Along those lines, you should get them into their school routine a few weeks early and making sure that they're getting up at the time that they will need to and going to bed at the appropriate time so that it's not an abrupt change in their routine from the summer.

Another thing is children with autism have a lot of sensory issues, so even something as simple as if they have new clothes they're going to be wearing to school, making sure that they have tried them on before and that they're comfortable. That is not going to be a new experience that can disrupt other things as they go to school.

All of these things are very important for both the school and the child so that they can be as successful as possible in their school year and be able to learn in an environment that works well for them. In addition to talking with the teachers and getting them prepared to understand the student, talking with any support staff that will be working with the child or will be helping out in the classroom so that they are aware also of the child's needs and any triggers for negative behaviors or any ways to de-escalate the child, to make them more comfortable. Even understand things that they like and some of their interests can help with interacting with them and gaining their trust.

One other thing is becoming aware of some of the other children in the school class to see if there is anyone that your child already knows or if not, trying to maybe have them meet some of the kids beforehand so that they can start to try to make some friends and get a little more comfortable in the social environment that they'll be in during the school year.

But the most important thing is to be proactive about starting a few weeks ahead of time to get the child ready as well as the school ready so that everything will be prepared for a successful school year.

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