Recently I was contacted by a parent of an autistic child about to start in Secondary School for the first time.
She asked had I any advice on what to do to help prepare her son. My sons are still in primary school so I knew I would not have all of the answers she needed.
I contacted a friend of mine from Limerick who runs a fantastic Facebook page “Limerick Autism Friendly Social Events”. I had recently read a detailed post where parents from all over Limerick commented giving advice for children starting in Secondary School.
With permission I have republished all of the advice here, and I have created a FREE PDF download version for you to print off . You can use the Autism Secondary School Checklist to help your son/daughter/student prepare for their start/return to secondary/high school.
Here you will find the advice given by parents for autistic children starting in Secondary School.
Autism Secondary School Checklist
- Photocopy the time table, have copies in their locker, on the fridge, in their journal and a copy for their pocket.
- Photocopy their bus ticket. Have a spare ticket in school bag, one at home and one in the school locker
- Get colour coordinated folders (available in Mr price). Give each subject a colour, so for example English goes in the blue folder. Put a blue sticker on the text book and copies and colour English blue on the time table. If you have a map of the school then the room where English class is on could be blue also.
- If using a locker key, make multiple copies and get a springy key chain (easons, etc) and attach it to loop on pants or skirt, nearly all secondary school kids do this anyway. Alternatively, use a combination lock and memorise the code between now and start of school starting. Use nail varnish or spray paint to make it brighter and easier to see from a distance.
- Buy softback A4 copies….(Contact your school and see can you do this, the weight of the school bags are ridiculous
- Have a morning checklist on the fridge, books, lunch, key, jacket etc
- Arrange to tour the school over the summer
- Have a safe person they can approach for help or advice, more than one if possible.
- If they have an sna make sure they also have a copy of colour coordinated timetable, a spare key/combination code and bus ticket.
- Try and build a good relationship with their class tutor or year head.
- Have a notebook that they can write in during the day if they find something challenging. Don’t expect them to talk immediately after school, give quiet, processing time.
- Locker at eye level. This is so important! There will be a crowd at the lockers and trying to get between someone’s legs to access your locker will be impossible, especially for someone with social communication difficulties, they’ll end up late for class or come home missing books needed for homework
- Try and have a buddy or designated person in a class that they can text to find out what homework they have.
- If using a laptop, most secondary books come with an ecd they can upload onto laptop at home so they can leave books in school.
- Get to know the school secretary!
- Put a dob of bright nail varnish on school jacket, as they are all so similar, something needs to stand out in a crowd
Many thanks to the Limerick Autism Friendly Social Events for sharing their Checklist with Littlepuddins.ie
If you have any suggestions that you think may be helpful for autistic children starting in secondary school, I would love to hear them. Comment down below or send me a DM over on my INSTAGRAM and next time I ammend the Checklist I will add in your suggestions.