Autism/ADHD Back To School Tools

BACK TO SCHOOL TOOLS    by: Nellie Valentine

Hi UCI STP Parents!  I wanted to share some of my strategies with you in hopes that it can be of some help.  Many wonderful people have helped me along the way and I feel it is important to pass on my knowledge and pay it forward!  I have been receiving Parent Training for the past 13 years.    Later, I will share with you some of my Back-to-School transition strategies but before I do that, I want to make a couple really important points.

  • First, structure, order, and calm are really important to kids with Autism and ADHD.  Having a home that reflects that is very important.  Also, as parents, when wemodel what our expectations are for our kids, they learn most and succeed best.  If we as adults in the home are constantly shouting at our kids and escalating with them, while simultaneously having the expectation that they do not tantrum… Then, we will find that it will be a long painful journey toward success.  “We must become the change we want to see.” – Ghandi

Second, over the years I had found that I eventually had to be one hundred percentcommitted to this process…   My kids have achieved the most success when I have made these practices we have learned at STP (and what I have learned over the years) a daily lifestyle.  Here are my five “Takeaways” that I ensure are solidly in place at my home.

1. Establishing Rules and Expectations will be the cornerstone of our success.

2. Communication with the family is vital.  At home we have family meetings (I gather all the kids in the living room for three minutes) and discuss the plans for the day or a change in our programs, etc.).  We also use social stories, role play, “Chat with Mom” – this is where I talk about individual goals – I never want my children to feel singled out or embarrassed about their challenges.  We also utilize goal charts, earning and giving rewards and so on…   This is our way of life!

3. Words Matter… Praise and good positive constructive feedback are vital to our kids’ self-esteem.  Our kids are pretty smart!  They feel great when we validate them. There is this inspirational Maya Angelou quote… “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   I work hard at creating memorable praise and validating moments with my kiddos.  It makes them thrive!

4. ABC’s (Antecedent, Behavior & Consequence)…  “Anticipating the A’s” is my personal mantra as a parent.  Planning, reviewing, discussing and negotiating an event before it happens, makes all the difference in the world.  I attribute much of our success at my home to simply this…  “Anticipating the Antecedents.”

5. Consistency is critical.  There can be no wavering here… and if it all falls apart one day, I immediately start over the next day.  I make certain to follow the plan.  ABA Treatments work!

With that in place at home, I follow the same processes when “Transitioning” Back to School.  Here are some of my best practices…

  • Create Social Story with my child’s full input and participation
  • Create new school goals/rewards system with my child’s full input and participation
  • Create Schedule (same as above)
  • Call my child’s school to find out who the new Teacher is… Visit classroom if possible…Teachers are usually there setting up two days before class starts.  I share with my child’s teacher about STP – Summer Camp.  I describe the Elite Team that supported them (and me) this past Summer and how prepared we both are to begin school on the right track. I share my desire to continue with that success!  I share ourExpectations/Transition Plans and how the program we have at home works… I inform the Teacher how we plan to follow through on what was learned at STP.  I ask for his/her feedback and input.  Finally, I review last year’s IEP or 504 Plan with the Teacher.   I provide them with a copy featuring highlighted areas I feel are important to point out to them about my child’s needs.
  • When I get home, I immediately send an email to confirm my interpretation of our conversation.  Hopefully if the Teacher has questions or comments, they will get back to me.
  • After my visit with the Teacher, I pop my head in and say a quick hello to the Principal.   Let them know I am present.
  • My child and I review the new Social Story daily one or two weeks prior to him starting school.
  • Immediately (on day one) when school begins, I send a written note to the Administrator to schedule an IEP or 504 Meeting for the new school year.

I truly hope this is useful information for you.  It was a pleasure being in the class with you!  We belong to an exclusive club and I feel we must support each other in order that we may effectively support our kids…  Here’s to a great new school year!  Let’s stay in touch.