Scout it Out

Middle School TransitionHere’s a transition tip for families who have a child who is transitioning from an elementary school setting to a middle school setting. It can be super scary and anxiety-provoking, especially for a student with ASD who needs structure and routine!! My recommendation is to tour the school ahead of time (and map out how to get through all 6 periods of the day), make arrangements to meet with his/her teachers, and prepare the student with school rules. For example, “Once the first bell rings, you have 5 minutes to get from one class to the next.”

 

Remember to discuss P.E. rules especially, because our kids with ASD miss social cues and nuances. P.E. rules can include “Focus on yourself’ or “Keep your eyes and comments to yourself.” Perhaps a role play at home would be beneficial as well. A go-to person at this new school would also be extremely helpful. Maybe it could be the school psychologist, school counselor, or even homeroom teacher. The student should be told that he/she may go to this person for problem solving during frustrating moments during the day or week. This list can go on and on… 

The Star of the Story Is… You!

The Star of the story is YouA tool I have found helpful with transitions, especially the transition of a new school year, is social stories. An array of social stories are avilable on-line and in books, but personalizing social stories with photographs of the student doing the desired activity seems to get a better response. A new school year may include many firsts such as new staff,new room,and a new routine.Familiarizing students with new staff or what is expected (Such as, “waiting in line to get lunch”, or “sitting on the carpet with hands in lap”) by using photographs increases buy-in. Who doesn’t like being the star of their own story?

Smile! You are on Your Student’s Refrigerator

As a school based Speech Language Therapist, I make a strong effort for the students and parents to know my face during those first delicate weeks of school. In order to keep my face familiar, I send home a letter with a recent picture of me doing something fun from the summer. Not only does this glimpse of my personal life allow the parents to get to know a little about me, but the picture with my contact info often ends up on family refrigerators. Students get to see me as a familiar face in their kitchen, and parents are easily able to identify me when they meet me on campus. Personal touches go a long way in establishing positive relationships at the beginning of the school year.