Although the back-to-school displays have been in grocery and retail stores since July, the actual time for this annual ritual is now becoming reality. The transition from summer to school is difficult for many if not most students. Among students with a learning disability, including ADHD, the challenges can be even greater. This holds especially true for children and teens with autism, for whom any change in routine can be daunting. The transition is often stressful for parents as well.
Helpful Tips for Parents: Organization and Modeling
John Piacenthi, Director of the UCLA Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support Center, outlines helpful conversations parents of an anxious child can engage in. Bringing up positive memories of past school years while confronting fears are two methods he recommends. In other words, parents should “model confidence.” For parents, Understood.org has created its handy step-by-step “4-Week to Get Ready” calendar for parents. Several other experts offer advice to parents in preparing for that first day of school. Parents should also take the time to reach out to their child’s new teacher, allowing him or her to get to know the unique needs of their child. Says one expert and advocate, “Part of getting your child ready for school is also getting the school ready for your child.”
For children with autism, a visit to the actual classroom allows the child to experience the sights and smells of the new room in a safe setting, without the presence of other children. The visit will also alert the parent to potential problems before they happen, such as a desk being too close to a source of noise, such as a hallway or outside playground. These tips and more are all in a very helpful Edutopia article, along with an informative blog piece.
Back-to-School Resources for Children with Dyslexia and Other Print Disabilities
Diane Lurye, a special education teacher in Maryland, recommends parents and teachers look into Bookshare, an organization that provides e-books and text-to-speech software. Alex C., a student agrees and tells why in a video.
Finding Advocacy Services
Just as children with disabilities can feel overwhelmed by returning to school, so do many parents. The complex maze of finding the right services for a child can be daunting. For parents in New Jersey, Advancing Opportunities offers advocacy services at no cost to them. New Jersey parents are not alone! According to statistics released this time last year, some 16.5 percent of New Jersey students are classified with a physical or developmental disability. Parents, children, and teachers working as a team can alleviate much of the stress.