Parents want the best for their children. When back-to-school season hits, that means planning ahead so children with autism are familiar with the behaviors they need to succeed in school.
When your child starts to age out of state-provided early intervention or approaches school age, it’s a good time to make sure he’s ready to learn.
Schools may teach some of these behaviors, but many young children with autism may improve their progress with comprehensive therapy tailored to their specific needs.
Milestone Ahead: Get Ready for School
Parents are often surprised by how much a child’s age affects their expectations: Three is when a child typically starts pre-school. Five is when a child usually starts kindergarten. Yet children on the spectrum often need extra help reaching these milestones.
Being ready to learn in a classroom means sitting still, communicating with teachers and kids, moving from one activity to the next and so on. These behaviors can be difficult for most children, especially those with autism.
Classroom-readiness groups might be the ideal solution. Starting as early as age 3, classroom-readiness groups combine individual and group therapy to help your son or daughter get school-ready.
What is Classroom-Readiness?
Classroom-readiness groups use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is a scientific, proven treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. ABA is the only autism treatment that has been endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
These groups offer intensive one-on-one therapy to help each child learn behaviors that help them adapt and succeed in school. This includes listening and following directions, staying focused on an activity for an appropriate length of time (such as three minutes for preschool and five minutes for kindergarten), transitioning between tasks and so on.
The beauty of classroom-readiness therapy is that numerous kids get individual therapy at the same time. They come together regularly to work in a group, just as they’ll do at school. Kids practice lining up, sitting for circle time, eating a snack, following directions and other typical school experiences.
Classroom-readiness groups aren’t a replacement for school. They don’t teach letters, numbers or any early academic subjects. The only goal helping your child gain the behaviors she needs to be ready to learn.
There’s no need to choose between classroom-readiness groups and school. In fact, continuing the therapy can be extremely helpful once a child starts school.
Organizations that offer classroom-readiness therapy can work closely with your child’s teachers and his Individual Education Plan team to focus on his exact needs. If your son is finding it hard to stand in line or start and stop activities, that’s what the ABA therapist will work on.
Back to school is a special time of the year – the excitement of taking pictures on the first day, the bittersweet joy of your child getting older and so many new adventures ahead.
Starting school can be just as exciting for children with autism, especially if you plan ahead with therapy and support to make sure your child is ready to learn.
About the Author
Laura Bonfante (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst for Autism Home Support Services and manages AHSS’ Autism Center in Arlington Heights, Illinois. AHSS is the Midwest’s largest provider of in-home ABA therapy and offers services at a growing number of autism centers. See autismhomesupport.com for more information or call 844-247-7222.