Just as your child is going to receive a back-to-school supply list? Here are a few things that you should be doing to get ready for back to school. Yes, you- mom or dad of an autistic child. There are some specific things that you’re going to need. I won’t leave you empty-handed though. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a handy checklist with these back to school survival tips for parents of autistic children.
What parents of autistic children need to do before school starts
Aside from the back to school shopping for supplies or clothes, there are a few key things that parents need to do before the mad-rush of back to school. And yes, parents of autistic children, that includes you too.
Granted, our school supply list might not look the exact same and their clothing needs might not be the same either.
We may not put as much money into creative lunch ideas because we know that our kiddos are going to eat the same thing, every day — not a bad thing, by the way! This can actually help with setting up a visual schedule and increasing independence.
However, there are some things that are kind of unique to this world of parenting a child with special needs.
8 Back to School Preparation Tips for Parents
First and foremost, review your child’s current IEP. More details on that one below, but this one should be at the very top of your list. This is especially true if they’ve attended an ESY program.
You never know what kinds of changes or set-backs that they’ve experienced over the summer.
Second, even if your child has gone to that particular school before, try to arrange for a visit. You’ll want them to know where things are and to be comfortable with the layout of the school. Sure, you might have the opportunity for a back-to-school night, but don’t wait for that.
Next, get your school year routine together. This includes your schedules, routines, and systems for:
- Before School
- School Day Evening/Night
Yes, this may seem a bit excessive but when you have things broken down like this; it really does help make things go smoothly.
While you are on the topic of routines and systems, you may want to consider a homework center. Or a command center of sorts where your child can easily see and organize their school supplies in the morning.
And speaking of those school supplies? Take it from me and buy these in bulk. Not just for your child, but also for you.
Consider extracurricular or after-school activities and start planning those out as well. Reason being? If you’re going to be making adjustments in your child’s existing routine, you’ll want to be able to accommodate for these changes early. The sooner you can incorporate these things into your child’s visual schedule, the better. Now, I’m not suggesting that you actually start these activities- but at least start blocking them into the schedule.
Now that you have this planned out, it’s time to put it on a calendar (or three) — whether you are working from one master calendar or individual calendars (for you and your child); you’ll want to have this all written down.
We will be using a bullet journal to organize our family this school year.
How to make sure your child’s IEP is ready for back-to-school
Before your child goes back to school, review the most recent copy of their IEP. If you feel that it is not up to standards, request a review meeting in writing.
Your school team is required to meet with you to discuss:
- Updated or initiated evaluations
- Periodic reviews
- Referrals for additional services as needed
That’s why this is the number one thing on your back to school checklist. Yes, having your home areas and home routine ready definitely helps. But there’s only so much that we as parents can do at home.
That really falls on the school.
And our children, of course.
But here’s how to make this process easier (or at least more organized). Grab a free copy of my Back to School Checklist for Parents (No Opt In Needed)
How to make sure your child’s IEP needs are being met
You can request all of the meetings, reviews, and written communication in the world. But the one way to really make sure that your child’s IEP is being followed? Observation.
Whether you are the one observing or a school professional, this is really an effective way to make sure that the IEP goals are being met as they should be.
- Observe in various settings at various times
- Keep notes
- Ask if the observation is “typical”
- Prepare your child (so they aren’t confused as to why you’re there OR as to why you won’t be there every day)
- Thank the teacher for allowing your visit
- Don’t talk to your child’s teacher during the observation
- Don’t disrupt the classroom or learning