The weather is getting slightly cooler, and the days are starting to seem a bit short. That’s right, the school year has arrived and you may be scrambling to ensure your child is ready.
Children on the autism spectrum can face a unique set of challenges at school. As such, it’s helpful to be aware of what some of these challenges might be, and how to prepare for them.
The Hidden Curriculum
The “Hidden Curriculum” is an idea that embodies all of the skills that are taught in a school environment outside of its academic curriculum. Children learn their ABCs and Math through their academic curriculum, but the hidden curriculum teaches them things like social awareness, self help skills, and what behavior is expected of them in a classroom setting. Some of those behaviors include:
- Staying seated
- Making eye contact with teachers and peers
- Communicating their needs
- General social skills
Even if your child is very young, grade levels as early as preschool could require your children to understand this set of skills. Much like school, Applied Behavior Analysis therapy also has a component of hidden curriculum that can help teach your child these necessary skills for success in school. Unlike some schools though, an ABA therapy provider can help tailor the skills and behaviors they teach to fit children on the spectrum specifically. This is part of what makes early intervention so important for your child on the spectrum.
To help prepare your child for the expectations set out before them, we recommend letting your ABA provider know which of these skills your children needs help on. An effective ABA program will be willing to individualize your child’s care to ensure they are prepared to be in a school environment. To learn more about our ABA therapy services, feel free to contact us here or visit our site.
Autism and School Anxiety
Children on the autism spectrum tend to be more likely than their neurotypical peers to experience anxiety. This can be especially apparent when children on the spectrum find themselves in a new routine or unfamiliar setting. School is an environment that may feel like both of those things. Some easy tips to reduce instances of anxiety for parents to consider when preparing their child for school include:
- Understand what causes the anxiety: If you know what factors contribute to your child’s anxiety, you can better equip them to handle it as it comes on.
- Practice at home: Setting up a pretend school environment at home to go over the things your child can expect, or exposing them in small doses to what causes their anxiety can help them feel more prepared when the time comes to face that anxiety in the classroom.
- Use scheduling: If you know a change in routine gives your little one anxiety, try making highly visual schedules so that they know what to expect, and get better at handling transitions from one activity to the next. This can go a long way in school.
- Get help with special accommodations: Though each classroom may not necessarily be tailored to children on the spectrum, there’s no shame in asking teachers or other school staff what kind of accommodations are available for your child. Most schools will do their best to make your child comfortable so that they can learn and thrive in a supportive environment.
Preparing your child for school may seem like an intimidating burden, but the truth is you don’t have to bear it alone. If you’re worried about school anxiety, or the social skills and behaviors that your child needs to succeed, you may benefit from an early intervention approach in a highly structured, preschool setting like ABA therapy.