Child & Adolescent Wellbeing
Caregiving Solutions to Support Child & Adolescent Wellbeing
If you are caring for a loved one with a disability, special needs, or have a child or teen diagnosed with a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder, Family First can work with you to find long-term solutions to support your caregiving responsibilities.
Our team of Care Experts are in your corner, every step of the way.
Ask us about:
+ Schooling & educational supports
+ Behavioral and neurodevelopmental disorders
+ Special needs dependents
+ Autism Spectrum Disorder
+ Puberty and bullying
+ Mental health and self esteem issues
+ Back-up, daycare and ongoing care
+ Parent coaching
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Autism Spectrum Disorder & School Transitions
Entering a new school is challenging for neurotypical students, but with those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be even more challenging. Below are strategies for parents, their child and school to smooth the transition.
Preparation is Key
The more you can learn about the new school, the better you can be prepared to work with your existing team around what your student will need as far as advanced preparation or even accommodations with the new changes.
During the last year in elementary school parents can:
- Meet teachers and staff in the new school
- Learn about the differences in school times, schedules, expectations and communications
- Learn about the course outlines
- Learn about the school policies and traditions (dances, clubs, sports, etc.)
- Work with the existing school staff to identify the important skills your child will need in the new environment
Things like how the middle school communicates activates to students can often get overlooked. Remember, starting to build more independence is important during this time. The schools will tend to share information with students directly and if the student does not remember things or has communication challenges, it may not get relayed to the parents and families feel like their child or family missed out.
Once you have a better idea of the school environment, you can begin to build strategies around the changes. Here are a few changes to consider:
- School building and room locations
- Number of students in a class
- Classroom changes throughout the day
- New students
- New teachers and school staff, such as nurses, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, others
- Pull-out versus push-in services
- Cafeteria options
- Gym class
- Communication for social events
- School start times and daily schedules
Preparing Your Child
Parents will know the best strategies to prepare their child for changes. Here are few suggestions.
- Create and practice scripts to prepare them on how to ask for help and to know when to ask for help.
- Anticipate stressors:
What if they don’t feel well?
What if they forgot their lunch?
Where do you go if you need a break?
- Remind and practice their self-calming / coping skills
Deep breathing, counting slowly to and from 10, gently squeezing and releasing hands, repeat a positive message.
- Invest in organization tools if not provided (binders, tab organizers, folders, etc.).
- Consider carpools or linking up with friends so they get to school together.
- Use social stories for the new situations your child will encounter, including navigating new school rules.
- Plan visits to the new school. Allow for as many visits that will make your child the most comfortable.
- Practice navigating the hallways and finding classrooms. Identify important areas like the nurse, cafeteria, bathroom, gym, special education classroom, including a safe haven, as needed.
What Can the School Do?
- Inform the new school of the incoming student
- Plan how teachers will be prepared, informed and supported
- Provide staff education and resources on the diagnosis of ADS
- Identify a contact if there are questions or problems for the parents
- Identify an older student as a mentor
- Have adaptations and modifications prepared for the first week
- Educate explicit communication needs and the need to monitor comprehension
- Proactively plan to meet to gauge success in the transition and solve problems
- Have a communication plan in place with parents
- Pathfinders for Autism: Strategies for Surviving Middle School with an Included Child with Autism
- The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Elizabeth Reeve M.D.
- Autism Speaks: Resource Library