Tips to help prepare your child with autism for school
For parents and families, it can be daunting preparing your child for school. You may feel overwhelmed or concerned about how much they need to know or what skills they should already have prior to starting school. For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) it is a significantly big jump from daycare or preschool to a formal classroom setting. The change in expectations is enormous and it can be difficult for any child to adapt, let alone a child who has a developmental delay.
When preparing your child for school, try focusing on these top 3 skills to help build a strong foundation and give them their best chance at success:
- How to listen to and understand stories being read to them.
- Verbal language skills. Aim to build the strongest language skills your child can achieve by school entry – receptive, expressive and vocabulary.
- Phonemic awareness, such as detecting and producing rhyme, hearing the first sound in words and joining sounds to make words.
Getting ready for school is a big process, so the best thing to do is make a plan. Most children will be exposed to some early academic skills in preschool, like letters, numbers, colours and shapes. A general knowledge of these skills is definitely encouraged.
Whilst these key academic skills are great to practice at home, learning key social skills and how to interact with other children in new environments is also really important. Things like learning how to wait, how to follow instructions, how to play schoolyard games…and more importantly – how to cope if you lose a game, can make a big difference to your child’s experience at school. Similar to planning an early intervention program, think of all the different things your child might need to know how to do and start working on them early. Rockmelon CONNECT+LEARN has some great resources to help you introduce these kinds of skills to your child!
As an autism parent, it is also really important to have a supportive group of people around you – this is your ‘Team’! Your Team is made up of anyone who is there to support your child and help them reach their best outcome. It might be other family members, therapists, teachers or family friends. These people can help you get your child school ready. Work with them to create a learning program for your child. It could be fun things, like learning how to play tag in the park, or how to eat in a new space. Help keep learning fun and exciting for your child by bringing in new people to practice with.
If you feel that your child could benefit from another year at home, then that is ok too! Check what the laws are in your local area for the age in which children should be enrolled in school and start working toward that goal.
Remember, going to school is a big step for any child and you’re not alone in not feeling 100% ready. Work on your plan and build those steps to success.