Taming the stress of school transitions

This is the time of year that our Autism Resource Specialists start getting familiar phone calls. “My son is in fifth grade and he will be going to middle school next year…” “My daughter is in eighth grade and she will be transitioning to high school next year…” 

The list of concerns ahead of these school transitions is long, and the anxiety that parents are feeling – in anticipation of the anxiety that their children on the autism spectrum will experience – is palpable. Having a plan of action is a good way to relax – at least a little bit – and ensure a successful transition.

  1. First, request that staff from your child’s next school attend the transition meeting this spring. Ideally, this would be your child’s future teacher(s). If they are not available, an EC teacher or administrator can also attend to learn about your child and share information about the new school.
  2. Ask your child’s current teachers to share strategies, accommodations, etc. that have helped your child succeed. Compile these details as part of a portfolio to share with future teachers to support the IEP.
  3. Ask whether your child’s next teacher would be permitted to observe your child during this school year to learn about how to support them.
  4. Learn about the new school and how it differs from your child’s current school: new expectations, different policies, changes in schedule, etc.
  5. Start planning supports your child might need to adjust to changes and meet new expectations.
  6. Find out whether the school offers any supports such as peer mentors. How will they help your child make friends? Are there any clubs that address your child’s interests?
  7. Make a list of skills that your child must have and if needed, work on them now and over the summer.
  8. Discuss with future teachers how you can help them get ready to support your child. What do they need from you?
  9. Be sure to get contact information for teachers and staff who will work with your child. Plan now for good communication.

These are just a few steps you can take now. Once school is out, you will want to focus more on your child, taking a tour of the new school, meeting staff, and learning about upcoming changes.


IEP Webinars

If you are looking for general information about IEPs, we recommend two webinars:

IEP Basics: Frequently Asked Questions: Get answers about Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Learn about their importance, how to navigate the process, and special-education law.

The 3 Most Important Questions on Your IEP: At the start of developing an Individualized Education Program, parents are asked three questions. Learn how to answer them to build the best IEP for your child.

Watch now


IEP Toolkits

We also offer two toolkits that address IEPs:

The IEP: A strong Individualized Education Program (IEP) is an important part of ensuring your child’s success at school. Empowering parents to be their children’s best advocates is the guiding principle for this toolkit, which will walk you through the process.

Behavior & the IEP: This toolkit reviews the school disciplinary process, suspension and removal, and how inappropriate behaviors may be addressed through a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).

Read now

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