Back to School Tips for Parents of Special Needs Students!

It’s that time of year again - back to school! At the start of the year there are many changes… schedules, teachers, specialists, routines… etc. It can be a very difficult time for all children, especially those with special needs such as autism or mild to moderate learning disabilities. 

This post will give you 5 helpful tips to help your special needs child transition into the new school year.

5 Back to School Tips for Autism Parents

  1. Set up an appointment with your child’s teacher

Whether your child is in a general education classroom or in a self-contained classroom, set up an appointment with your child’s teacher so that you can meet the teacher and see the classroom before the school year begins. This way, your child can get a feel for the classroom and feel comfortable with the environment, teacher, and specialists before the school year begins. 

2. Practice morning routines

Summer schedules are likely different and possibly more flexible than school year schedules. Therefore, during the last two weeks of summer, you should practice morning routines with your child so that they get in the habit of waking up early and going through the morning routine. This way, your child will be ready to wake up early and go through their morning routine once school starts up again!

3. Encourage your child’s teacher to create a visual schedule for your child

Children with autism and other learning disabilities often struggle with transitions and changes. Therefore, you should encourage your child’s teacher to create a visual schedule for your child so that your child is able to transition to the next class or subject without breaking down. 

4. Tell your child’s teacher what motivates your child

Before the school year begins, you should connect with your child’s teacher and tell them what motivates your child so that your child’s teacher can use that item as a reinforcer. For example, if your child loves Toy Story, your child’s teacher can find Toy Story related reinforcers to help motivate your child to complete their work!

5. Practice and review drills with your child


Fire drills, tornado drills, earthquake drills, and lockdowns can be extremely stressful for students with disabilities. Loud noises and unscheduled drills can cause a lot of anxiety and breakdowns among students with disabilities. In order to minimize anxiety, you should review social stories about these drills with your child in the first few weeks of school. This way, when a drill happens, they will know what to do! 

6. Review back to school social stories


Reviewing back to school social stories with your child will help them know exactly what to do, how to behave and what to expect during back to school time. Diverse Learning Hub offers an animated social story that will help students learn what to do and how to behave during this time.