Back to School for a Teenager with Autism

My 8th grader loves his vacations. The longer the better. He also loves his weekends. Any studying that has to occur on a weekend is met with lots of protests.

How do I get my son back into the school swing of things?

One thing I do is occasionally mention to my son that school will be returning. Sometimes, I do this as a tease, of course. But, I will say, “Hey, you know school is back on Monday, right?”

The answers are typically dour, but I’m putting it out there.

Another thing I have to pay attention to is bedtime. My son is becoming a night owl. During vacations or school breaks, this is fine.

But, school nights are a different thing to me.

So, three nights BEFORE the return to school, I begin to wind back my son’s upstairs time.

I try to do this a few nights earlier and not just the night before school is back.

I also remind him why his late nights need to be rolled back. SCHOOL!

He’s never all that pleased with this, either. But, he does a reasonably good job of complying.

What else do I do?

For us, the winter break comes right after my husband and I have attended our sons IEP meeting. The teachers are always present and usually inform us of his behaviors, ones that need addressing.

As my son has gotten older, these have become less, of course. And, definitely more like minor tweaks.

But, still, here’s what I do toward the end of winter break…

I go over some “adjustments” with my son.

My husband and I will talk to him about some specifics that a teacher or two mentioned during the IEP.

For example, sometimes my son will raise his hand in class and begin speaking BEFORE he’s been called on. Yes, we have worked on this issue for YEARS with him, but he still occasionally does it. Typically, it’s because he’s eager to answer a question or get out some kind of information about a topic.

The problem is he ends up interrupting the class.

He’s not good at waiting. Never has been, and it’s still a problem.

So, we have to go over—yet again—the protocol for waiting. (We also gave him a notepad so that he can write down things that he can’t get out because the teacher is busy.)

We also have to review the readiness for class. My son has a tendency to plop down his backpack and do some class wandering before the class. He is (apparently) not ready for class.

What do we do?

I actually had him practice carrying his bookbag into a room (our kitchen), putting it down, and taking out the materials that he needs for class. Then, he can walk around. Sometimes, I believe visuals or actually having my son do the activity helps. (I also had him practice putting the caps back on the highlighter pens. He’s not good as this, either.)

Finally, the night before school is back, I remind him of the school rules—homework before devices, know when your tests are upcoming, some studying HAS to happen on weekends (not every weekend, but some of them), and we expect decent grades and reasonable behavior.

We will deal with the bumps along the way, but he has to TELL US when things happen.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

 

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