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Advice for autistic children returning to school after the holidays

2020-08-07

It is not easy for any student to switch back from the idle summer life to school life. For children with autism, the transition becomes more difficult. As you mentioned, they often feel uncomfortable with the early rising and long school life.


Adjust your sleep time and wake time

We can start by setting an alarm to wake up a little earlier than usual. Usually, this can be done through a process called shaping. First, consider how long it will take you to adjust your child's summer schedule to fit in with the school schedule.

If your child wakes up at 9 am today, they need to wake up at 6:30 on the first day of school. You need to get your child up 2 to 5 hours earlier. Ideally, you should start sculpting a month before school starts. The schedule should look like this:

The first week:Wake them up half an hour earlier than usual in the summer vacation. The example in this article is to wake a child at 8:30. To encourage them to get up, give them a glass of juice as a reward.

In the second week of:Move your wake-up time forward by 30 minutes. So now we need to get up at 8 o 'clock. Continue to give your child positive encouragement by giving him a glass of juice or a gentle compliment when he wakes up. If possible, start adjusting your sleep schedule this week as well. We can put the child to bed 30 minutes earlier.

The third week:Now we can adjust our schedules more purposefully. Increase your wake-up time by 45 minutes (in our example, 7:15 a.m.). Continue to give your children positive reinforcement -- preferably after they have woken up and completed their first morning routine at school. Reward your child if they put on the clothes the night before before leaving the room, or if they brush their teeth and wash their face before breakfast. If possible, move the bedtime forward 45 minutes to ensure your child gets eight hours of sleep.

The fourth week:Adjust your wake-up time 15 minutes earlier. In our example, it's 6:45 in the morning. Reward children after they wake up to complete two morning school routines.

The first week back to school:Wake the child up at the same time every day. Actively train to get out of bed and try to complete as many steps as possible in the morning to form a routine.


Adjust to the needs of the school

To meet the needs of school life, I recommend that parents talk to their children's teachers, teaching assistants or counselors. Some necessary communication and coordination is justified here. Keep in mind that your child, like most students, will be more exhausted during the first week of school. They may not be at their best.

Ideally, teachers will design appropriate activities during the first class to help children integrate into school life. In the past few weeks, I've encouraged teachers to spend half the school day engaging children in physical activity or other appropriate activities -- but not napping.

Generally speaking, I do not recommend that students with autism or other developmental disabilities sleep at school unless they are sick or waiting for their parents to pick them up. By staying awake at school, it makes it easier for them to fall asleep when they get home at night.

I also encourage teachers to use visual AIDS or similar activities for scheduling to help students understand their progress in school. Without a sense that something will eventually end, even a simple activity can seem like forever to an autistic child. A visual schedule is an excellent reminder of how time is running out and when the holidays are coming.