Back-to-School Tips For Kids With Special Needs

Guess what? It’s back-
to-school time again! Here are some things to think about as we close to school starting up again.

1. Bedtime. 

We’re sure all of you parents have now started putting your kids to bed an hour to an hour and a half earlier than you did during the summer, right? 🙂

If you haven’t it’s time to start!

Our rule of thumb is to go backwards with the bedtime 30 minutes every week. That usually gets you to where you need to be in time. If your kids are in the habit of going to bed at 9 or 10 at night, it’s time to start moving that bedtime forward to get them ready for the school year. And of course, you have to get them up earlier in the morning, too! So however long you back up the bedtime at night, you need to also back up the wake-up time in the morning. 

2. School supplies.

It’s time to buy school supplies. All the sales are going on! For a lot of our kids, it’s really important that you look at their school supply list and start getting those items. Our kids struggle a lot, especially our sensory kids, with a lot of anxiety when they don’t have everything they need ahead of time. So work ahead of time on getting those, whether you’re going to purchase the packet that the school sells through the PTA or you’re going to go out and buy your own supplies, start putting those together now! You can make a fun activity out of shopping—let your kiddo pick out the color folder they want, or the type of paper or pens. Make it an outing, and make it fun and exciting!

Sometimes schools will have you get a variety of different notebooks and folders. It’s often easiest for the kids if they have one thing. If you can get them one big notebook that houses everything, instead of having lots of notebooks and folders all over the place, that makes it easier.

3. Backpacks.

Take your kiddo shopping with you. They’re going to need to like that backpack and know that it has every pocket they need for the items they need! If you have kids who are upperclassmen and who have an A day and a B day, you might want to get two different backpacks for them because it can be confusing moving things between days. Organization is critical!

4. Check your paperwork.

Another thing to think about as school approaches is IEP and ARD paperwork. If your child has one of these it’s important to start looking at these plans now, so you can make sure that things are in place ahead of time. 

5. Pictures.

I think it’s a great idea if you can get into the classroom ahead of time so your student can get familiar with the area. They can walk the grounds and look for their classroom. You can also take photos. These photos are a great way to train for school before school starts, but they can also be helpful after school starts. During that first or second week of school you’re probably not going to get a whole lot of information out of your kiddo about how school went. They may have so much anxiety that sometimes when we ask them lots of questions, it will produce a meltdown. They’re overwhelmed as it is, they’re adjusting, and they don’t want to answer your questions, even though you’re dying to know how things went. You can use those photos as a topic producer. You can ask, “Did you sit in this area?” “Do you have a friend who sits over in this part of the classroom?” Sometimes the child will open up about the day by talking about the pictures.

6. Lunchroom.

Lunchrooms are really overwhelming until we get adjusted to our school. Make sure that you have comfort foods, things that are familiar, a lunch box they like. And here’s a trick to use: A lot of our kids are overwhelmed by smells. Did you know that smelling a lime clears the other smells out? This might be a good tip for you, if you can get your child to tolerate a lime. This could really help them to work through the lunchroom. Again, make sure you try this at home before you try it at school!

So these are just a few things to think about as we get close to the start of the school year. Remember, we don’t want to overwhelm our kiddos! So plan accordingly so that this can be a successful time. Make it an event for the family, just like you’d plan for a vacation, you’re planning for back to school. Have a great school year everyone! 

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