Transitions are tough for just about anyone. The transition to middle school is just one of those changes. Though it is challenging for any child, it can be an especially tough time for children on the autism spectrum.
Fortunately, you can start preparing for the transition ahead of time and take steps to make the change easier. In this post we’ll talk about the transition to middle school for your child on the spectrum and provide some tips on how to handle it.
There are several things to keep in mind when preparing for the transition to middle school. It can be a change of environment, routine, curriculum and peers amongst other things. As things ramp up and get more complex for your child in school they may find it particularly difficult to adjust.
When handling the transition we recommend keeping in mind the following tips:
It’s never too soon to start preparing your child for the upcoming change. As it gets closer, start talking with them sooner than later. The earlier they know what they might be able to expect, the better. If it helps, talk with your child’s current teacher about the transition. They may be able to help you plan or provide tips.
Communicate with the School and Teachers
If you know where your child is going to middle school, get started early by reaching out to the school and teachers to talk about accessibility and inquire about an Individualized Education Program (IEP). They will more than likely be able to help and provide more information on a successful transition for your child.
If changes in routine are a potential trigger for behavioral issues for your child start scheduling the new routine as early as possible. Use visualization techniques to walk your child through their new daily routine several times before they have to do it. If they have different schedules depending on the day, isolate each day’s schedule and practice it as many times as possible.
Make Time for Socializing
One of the most challenging aspects of the transition to middle school is the need to make new friends and expand into new social circles. If you find your child has a hard time in social situations, make time outside of school for your child to socialize with their new classmates. Get in touch with other parents and arrange playdates, or consider the possibility of an after school club.
Check-in With Your Child
Check-ins can serve as important time for self care and open and honest communication with your child. Make time each week to see what they are struggling with and what they are enjoying, then make a plan to build on the things they need assistance with. Constantly checking in will help you keep a finger on the pulse of your child’s transition and be better equipped to support them.
As you begin to prepare, don’t forget both you and your child are not alone in this transition. Use your resources and support networks to work through any challenges that come up, and with time, the adjustment will come.
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