If your kiddo went from elementary to middle school this year, this blog is a must-read! Surviving autism middle school can be overwhelming for both child and parents.
From a new classroom and teacher to meeting new people, this change can be especially tough for kids on the spectrum. However, the good news is that there are hacks you can implement to help make the transition to middle school easier for your child.
Here are 10 surviving middle school tips to help you get through the year and actually embrace the change:
10 autism transition strategies for middle schoolers
For any parent, watching their child head off to middle school can be a bittersweet experience. On one hand, they are proud to see their little one growing up and taking the next step in their education. On the other hand, they can’t help but feel a bit anxious about what the future holds.
This is especially true for parents of children with autism. The transition from elementary to middle school can be extraordinarily difficult for children on the autism spectrum. They often have trouble communicating and making friends, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. In addition, they may struggle with the increased workload and demands of middle school.
As a result, parents of children with autism typically face a unique set of challenges when it comes to helping their child transition to middle school. That’s why we’ve created these 10 autism middle school transition tips that will help them rise above!
1. Create a social story around middle school
Social stories are designed to help autistic kids understand and cope with new situations. They typically include a description of the situation, along with any important rules or expectations. In the case of middle school, a social story might describe what classes will be like, how to make new friends, and how to advocate for themselves.
By reading or listening to the story several times before starting school, your child will be better equipped to handle whatever comes their way.
2. Explain the differences between elementary and middle school
There's a big difference between elementary and middle school, and it can be pretty confusing for kids—especially autistic kids. But if you take the time to explain the differences, it can help them to adapt and make a successful transition.
For starters, elementary school is all about learning the basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic. In middle school, things get a little more advanced. Kids start to learn about history and science, and they also start to get homework. In the same way, middle school generally features longer classes and more teachers.
So take the time to sit down and explain the differences between elementary and middle school—it'll make all the difference in the world for your kid.
3. Tour the middle school ahead of time
Another way to help ease the transition is to take a tour of the middle school ahead of time. This way, the child can familiarize themselves with the layout of the school and meet some of the staff before the first day of classes.
In addition, touring the middle school ahead of time can help to identify any potential challenges that might arise during the year. For example, if there is a noisy room that might cause sensory overload, it can be avoided on days when the child is feeling particularly sensitive.
4. Meet your kiddo’s new teachers
Meeting the teachers gives you a chance to explain your child’s condition and discuss their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). It also helps the teachers to understand your child’s unique needs.
Additionally, taking the time to talk to the new teachers helps you to get a feel for the school environment and how well it will fit your child. After all, you want to make sure that your child is going to a school that is supportive and inclusive.
5. Encourage self-advocacy
Self-advocacy is an important skill for everyone, but it is especially critical for autistic kids who are transitioning to a new school. Being able to advocate for oneself is the key to success in any new situation, and it empowers autistic kids to take control of their own lives. In a new school, autistic kids will face many challenges, and they will need to be able to speak up for themselves in order to get the support and accommodations they need to succeed.
Encouraging self-advocacy from an early age is the best way to help autistic kids adapt to a new school and meet the challenges.
6. Get organized
By creating a daily routine and following it, autistic kids can feel more confident and start the school year off on the right foot
This can include talking about the school schedule, setting the time when they have to wake up, preparing everything they need the night before, or even scheduling a time to do homework.
7. Be involve
From meet-the-teachers gatherings so school reunions, being involved with your kiddo’s education is a great way to make them feel supported.
This means working with the teachers to develop a daily schedule and providing any necessary support materials, such as visual aids or social stories. It also means staying in close communication with the school staff, so that you can quickly address any issues that arise.
Additionally, it means talking to your kiddo about their struggles and helping them with homework and school-related things.
8. Model positive coping skills
Demonstrating how to deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy way is an important tool to ensure your kiddo’s success. Additionally, by modeling positive coping skills, you can also help your child to develop a more positive outlook on life.
A positive attitude can go a long way in helping an autistic child thrive in a new school environment.
9. Encourage extracurricular activities
One of the best things you can do is to encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities. This can help them to make friends, feel more comfortable in their new surroundings, and learn essential social skills. It can also be a great way for them to explore their interests and develop new talents that will help them thrive in the future.
And, if your child doesn’t feel like doing extracurricular activities, try to get them involved in online squads, so they can practice social skills and make friends from home.
10. Work with the school to develop a communication plan
Working with the school to develop a communication plan is a great way to help your autistic child adapt to their new surroundings. By communicating regularly with the school, you can keep them up-to-date on your child's progress and any challenges they may be facing.
This collaboration will ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together towards a successful transition for your child.
So there you have it! With these 10 autism middle school transition tips, you can be sure that your kiddo will adapt to this new adventure in no time!