Back To School Help From The Autism Team At Hands


Heading back to school can be scary and uncertain for some kids and families, especially when there’s an Autism diagnosis in the mix. It doesn’t have to be.  Experts at Hands are sharing some helpful tips to make that transition from summer to school easier.

“There is a lot that parents and caregivers can do to set themselves and their kids up for success in starting or returning to school,” said Paula Barnes, Manager of Autism Services at Hands. “Predictable routines can be really helpful, so parents can start establishing a school routine in August, well before the bell rings for the first day.  Parents can create a visual schedule of the morning routine so kids can clearly see what to expect. Showing pictures of their classroom or even visiting the school and meeting the teacher before school starts is also helpful.  If kids are taking a bus, you can create a social story about taking the bus to make it familiar and fun.”

“Most importantly, parents and caregivers should continue to advocate for their children, they understand their child’s unique strengths and needs best. Understanding the education regulations and participating in processes such as developing an Individual Education Plan (IEP) if needed, helps the school staff understand their child and his or her communication and learning styles.”

Hands Autism Services is offering two 90-minute online seminars on Tuesday, August 29, to help parents and caregivers with children with Autism who are starting school:

  1. School Readiness: 10 am online
  2. Master the School Meeting: School Advocacy: 7:30 pm online

To register for a seminar, just email, or call 1-800-668-8555 x1333.

Here are more tips and tricks to help ease the back to school transition:

Build familiarity:

  1. Slowly introduce things your child will need and use at school
  2. Take walks or drive by the school
  3. Create a social story of a typical school day


  1. Set up a pretend school environment


  1. Create a visual schedule of the morning routine when child goes to school
  2. Make a plan! How would you like the morning routine to look?
  3. Visit the school before the first day (if possible)

Preparing for the bus:

  1. Create school bus social story or find one online
  2. If the school offers a trial run, it’s a good opportunity to meet the bus driver and take a ride
  3. Let your child bring a comforting item the first few days
  4. Create a visual schedule


  1. Social Stories
    1. Tips for Writing a Social Story
    2. How to write social stories
    3. Social story template
    4. Riding the school bus social story
  2. Visual Schedule: Create your own customized schedule with this morning, afternoon, and evening template.
  3. Visual Calendar: Create your own customized calendar with this monthly template.
  4. My One-Page Profile: One-page profiles can help you share information about your child with other important people in their life, such as schools or childcares.
  5. Education organizer: This organizer will help you keep track of your child’s important educational documentation.


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