As we begin packing my oldest boy up for College, I have been reflecting on all the years past. Raising a son in the Autism Spectrum has challenges that are different than raising a son that isn’t in the Spectrum. However, preparing him for changes can be much more difficult than anything else we do for him. He has to be completely prepared for a change or a melt-down will ensue – it will, every single time!
Dependent on if your son chooses to go to college, you have 13+ years of education to think about. At first thought, it may seem overwhelming. But, it really is just a matter of “baby steps” as you enter each level of study.
Keep reading, for suggestions in regards to preparing your autistic son for school: preschool, elementary school, the middle grades, high school and college. Thousands of other families have successfully gone before you. There’s no reason you and your child can’t do the same.
We managed to leave high school with a couple scholarships – granted, he is high functioning, but make no mistake, he has many of the same things holding him prisoner in his mind.
Preparing Your Autistic Son for School
These tips for Preparing Your Autistic Son for School are geared more towards the mom that is putting her autistic child into the private or public school system. If you are planning to homeschool, I suggest reading Homeschooling with Autism.
Autism and Preschool
Preparing your autistic son for preschool doesn’t need to be overly stressful. One of the first things to do is get him used to a routine… if you haven’t already done so. This can be as simple as going to bed at the same time every night and eating meals at the same time each day.
If your child is more of a visual learner, consider making flashcards that coordinate with everything that’s part of the new routine. It makes it more fun that way!
Remember, one of the best things (in many communities) is the fact that preschool is free. This often includes in-school therapy, if necessary. In addition, many teachers are specially trained to teach kids with disabilities.
A wonderful tip for preparing an autistic boy for elementary school is to make learning fun at home. This doesn’t mean it’s necessary to study for hours every day. It means doing a fun learning activity two or three times per week.
If you have other children, certainly get them involved as well. This helps to teach your son how to interact properly with others.
Another thing you can do is sign up to be a classroom volunteer, right from the beginning. Your son will, no doubt, feel more comfortable in his new learning environment. This doesn’t mean you have to volunteer five days a week. Once might just do the trick!
Your son is growing up. It’s time to get him ready for middle school! At this point, there are several things you can request to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. One thing is to request a second set of textbooks, which he can use at home. This helps to eliminate the possibility of lost books in transit.
Another important step is to ensure that your child’s IEP follows him as he enters his new school. It’s never a good idea to assume that his middle school teachers automatically have access to prior IEP’s. Set up a meeting before school starts to ensure everything is in place. This is an excellent time to discuss your expectations for the year too.
High School Years
Transitioning to high school can be scary for anyone. So, preparing your autistic son for high school is a must. One of the wisest things you can accomplish is helping your child brush up on his study skills. Chances are; he’ll have more homework than in the past and keeping up with it is extremely important.
If you haven’t already done so, teach your son about the power of resilience. This goes a long way in helping him deal with any struggles or adversities he encounters. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t step in to assist when needed. You never give up the right to be a supportive parent, no matter how old your child gets.
Believe me, college sneaks up on you faster than you ever realize. The best way to prepare an autistic boy for college is to start talking about it WAY before it’s time to apply. Discuss things he enjoys and areas of study he’s interested in. If possible, help him get involved in the hobby that will help him with his future studies.
Talk about the possibility of going away to school or living at home while studying. Many young adults with autism are perfectly capable of living on their own with minimal assistance.
This is just a brief overview of Preparing Your Autistic Son for School. Honestly, time flies! He’ll go from preschool to college before you know it. Yes, you’ll have ups and downs. Every family does. But, in this case, working together is the real key to success. You can do it!