How can I deal with transition between schools for my son with Asperger Syndrome?

Question

How can I deal with transition between schools for my son with Asperger Syndrome?

Answer

For kids with Aspergers (high-functioning autism), transition between schools will evoke a wide range of negative emotions. Change is difficult for these kids, and when a new school year rolls around, everything changes. New classmates, new teachers, and new schedules can cause major anxiety, which can spiral to depression.

Dealing with the Aspergers transition problems can also affect your youngster’s home life. Anxiety brought about at school will carry over at home causing disruption. Anger and frustration can escalate, triggering meltdowns. While the transition at school cannot be avoided, there are things a parent can do to lessen the effects of all the change that comes with moving to a new school. 

 Here are some tips to help you deal with this unstable period in your youngster’s life:

Plan ahead—

Begin planning for the Aspergers transition phase well in advance. Make a checklist of people to speak with and places to visit. Your list may look like this:
  • Create a visual calendar that shows when the change will occur.
  • Meet with the special education coordinator at the new school to discuss my youngster and ways this person can help with the transition.
  • Schedule doctor’s appointments and therapy appointments to discuss counseling, medication, and any other available forms of help for my youngster’s transition.
  • Talk to my youngster about the changes that are coming.
  • Visit current teachers and therapists and request their help.
  • Visit the new school for a tour and then plan a visit with my youngster.

Prepare your youngster—

Moms and dads must prepare their youngster for the Aspergers transition period. Talk with your youngster about the change that is coming long before it actually happens. For example, near the end of this school year you can mention during your drives to school how your morning drive will be different next year. This will most likely bring protests, and this will give you a chance to talk positively about the new school. Keep it light and without pressure.

Prime the school staff—

The teachers and therapists at your youngster’s new school should know all about your youngster with Aspergers. Transition will be less difficult if the new school staff has a plan in place specifically for your youngster.

Put together a support program—

A complete and dedicated team should be in place for your youngster with Aspergers. Transition team members may include the pediatrician, neurologist, psychologist, school counselor, teacher, and most importantly, the moms and dads. While the medical community may rely on medical tests, medications, and therapies, the moms and dads can offer support at home. Moms and dads can find resources like books and videos to help them encourage their youngster.

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