Sending Your Autistic Teen to High School

Change can be difficult for children of all ages, especially when it comes to going to a new school. It can be even more overwhelming for a child with autism. There are ways to plan and alleviate some of the stress of transitioning even before the school year starts.

Talk Through the Transition Plan

Sit down with your teen and explain the change that’s about to happen. Ask if there are questions you can answer or ideas of how to make the start of the new year better. You should also remind your child of how he or she has successfully coped with other transitions in the past and how to apply those to future events.

Show your teen photos of their new school, classrooms and teachers or if possible, schedule an appointment ahead of time to go and meet the teachers and tour the building. Anything to familiarize them with their new environment in advance may help to smooth the transition.

Get Back on Schedule

About a month or so before school starts, reintroduce the school year bedtime and wake up time to get your teen back into a routine. You should also encourage your teen to read books and practice other educational skills such as drawing, painting or playing music.

Prepare School Supplies

Have your teen help pick out a new backpack and school supplies. If high school is the first time he or she has a locker, look at pictures of what the locker should look like and talk about how to organize it. If possible, consider practicing their combination during your summer visit. Making the preparation fun will help to build some excitement about the new year.

Empower Your Teen to be More Independent

Talk to your autistic teen about opening up to others and looking for opportunities to make friends and increase skills, especially in areas of interest. High school is a great time to develop social skills and have friends who are both alike and different than themselves.

Be an Advocate for Special Education

Familiarize yourself with special education rights and do your part to be involved in special education resources, such as meetups with other parents of autistic teens and any educational events your school may offer.

Your pediatric provider can serve as an additional resource for any questions you may have as you prepare to send your autistic teen to a new school.