What are the back to school essentials for students with autism?
Starting another school year can be just as challenging for the adults as it is for students with autism.
This year it will be VERY different. No matter how the school year starts, there will be a steep learning curve for everyone because there will be a lot of changes.
Even for adults, handling change can be difficult, and the beginning of the school year means change. There can be:
- New teachers
- New students
- New support staff
- New parents
- New therapists
- New classrooms
- New to autism
- New to a different age group
- New routines
- New communication needs
3 things that you MUST do
So with many changes to deal with there are 3 things you MUST have to avoid a lot of adjustment problems in the beginning.
Establish routines and make sure everyone knows what they are. MAKE THEM VISUAL so everyone can learn quickly.
- GIVE INFORMATION TO STUDENTS
Remember that when students have been out of school for a long time they may be confused because there will be many things that have changes. Giving this new information in VISUAL form will help them adjust.
- MAKE SURE STAFF KNOWS WHAT TO EXPECT
We think of using visual strategies for students, but don’t forget that they help the staff just as much as they help the students. The visual supports will frame the environment for everyone.
One important way to avoid communication overwhelm as you try to settle into the routines of the new school year is to provide an opportunity for everyone (the adults) to understand how visual strategies fit into each environment and student’s communication life.
Is this is new information?
Those of us who love to use visual strategies need to remember that others on the team may not have the same experience with visual supports. This may be a totally new concept for them. Or, they may previously have had unsuccessful or unpleasant experience for some reason.
We typically think of assessing students. It’s just as important to assess the communication partners. That helps us know where to begin.
Do they think they know?
Even if others say they have used visuals before, what they have used and how they have implemented them may be different from your experience. This is not bad. We can learn from each other. But spending a little time learning and reviewing together will help you establish a great start with a common understanding.
It’s easy to assume that others see and understand the student needs just like you do. Just remember, some of the best student outcomes occur when the communication partners engage in joint problem solving.
Review is good
Even when your team is highly experienced with autism, communication and visual strategies. . . .review is good. Review provides affirmation. We can all benefit from engaging in “checking things off” a checklist. Yes, I know that. Yep. . .I’m doing that. Review helps us remember what we need to remember.
Here’s what Linda Watt said:
I love your Visual Strategies Workshop DVD Program. We have a library to lend teachers, paraprofessionals and parents educational resources.
Your series is the most popular item on our list. The way you blend the “real educational” stuff with your experiences make it so much easier to see the way it is with real people. I guess I mean you humanize the literature!
We recently included your videos in our paraprofessional training. They loved you!
Thank you for doing such a great job in educating us. You help to validate what I already know and remind me of other things I have forgotten and need to reintroduce into my therapy.
Linda Watt, M.A., CCC-SLP
Tools for training
I want to help YOU get ready to have the best school year ever.
I’ve created a special VISUAL STRATEGIES BACK TO SCHOOL “BIGGIE BUNDLE” to help you do that.
It will help you organize your back to school essentials for your students with autism.
This bundle will provide what you need to:
- Quickly get new staff trained
- Provide all staff with support and a common goal
- Engage parents with meaningful training
- Supply answers to “how to” questions
- Help students transition to a successful school year
- Plus lots, lots more