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North Bay organization offers back-to-school tips for families who have kids with autism

Heading back to school can be scary and uncertain for some kids and families, especially when there’s an Autism diagnosis in the mix.

Experts at ‘Hands - The Family Help Network’ are sharing some helpful tips to make that transition from summer to school easier.

Hands’ autism services will be scheduling two 90-minute online seminars on Aug. 29 to help parents and caregivers with children with Autism who are starting school.

The first seminar will be at 10 a.m. online to discuses school readiness. Then at 7:30 p.m., is the second seminar is the ‘Master the School Meeting: School Advocacy’ seminar.

“There is a lot that parents and caregivers can do to set themselves and their kids up for success in starting or returning to school,” said Paula Barnes, the manager of Autism Services at Hands.

“Predictable routines can be really helpful, so parents can start establishing a school routine in August, well before the bell rings for the first day.”

Barnes added there are lots of ways for parents to ease their children with autism into the back-to-school routine; including:

  • slowly introduce things your child will need and use at school,
  • take walks or drive by the school,
  • create a social story of a typical school day,
  • set up a pretend school environment,
  • create a visual schedule of the morning routine when child goes to school and make a plan,
  • visit the school before the first day (if possible),
  • if the school offers a school bus trial run, it’s a good opportunity to meet the bus driver and take a ride,
  • and let your child bring a comforting item the first few days.

Barnes said when parents create a visual schedule of the morning routine children can clearly see what to expect.

“Showing pictures of their classroom or even visiting the school and meeting the teacher before school starts is also helpful,” she said.

“If kids are taking a bus, you can create a social story about taking the bus to make it familiar and fun.”

Staff at Hands added during the school year parents need to continue to advocate for their children as they understand their child’s unique strengths and needs best.

“Understanding the education regulations and participating in processes such as developing an Individual Education Plan if needed, helps the school staff understand their child and his or her communication and learning styles,” said Barnes.

To register for the seminars, call Hands at 1-800-668-8555 ext. 1333 or email them at Top Stories

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