Transitioning Your Child with Autism Back to School

As summer is once again gradually winding down, it is time to start thinking about what you can do to help prepare your child so that the transition back into school is as smooth as possible. Summer is filled with more leisure time and fun-filled activities. Your child’s day in school will certainly look much different, with more structure, routines, and expectations. This is all the more reason for you as a parent to begin the preparation process early.

Here are some tips to help with this transition.

Adjust Your Child’s Schedule

In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, slowly alter your child’s wake-up times to reflect the earlier school schedule.

Limit technology time, even if you need to schedule it into your child’s day.

Prepare Your Child

If your child will be going to a new school, schedule a visit. Check out the playground and arrange for a tour of the school. Schedule a time for your child to meet teacher(s), or if that is not possible, you could share photos of the teacher(s), so your child has a visual.

Share Information with the School Staff

Be sure your child’s teacher has updated information about your child. This should include your child’s likes, dislikes, strengths, challenges, triggers for meltdowns, effective approaches for preventing meltdowns. Your child might have made some progress over the summer break, so be sure to share updated information, so your child can keep moving forward. Be sure these changes are written in and reflected in your child’s IEP leading into the new school year, regardless of when your last IEP meeting took place.

Be sure to include your child’s sensory needs, so that they are incorporated as needed throughout the school day.

First Day Tips

During those first days of school, you may want to schedule a fun activity with your child afterschool, such as having a favorite snack, playing a favorite game, or going to the playground. This will help your child unwind after a long day.

Stay calm, and be the positive force for your child as the start of the school year approaches. Be enthusiastic, as it’s important for your child to feel secure and ready to transition back into school.


Juliette Heim, an ASNC Autism Resource Specialist in Asheville and mom to a son with autism, can be reached at


Learn more

See the Succeeding in School page on our website for more tips, toolkits, and links to valuable resources.

The ASNC Bookstore has lots of helpful resources. Here are some of our favorites:


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