Middle School Transition for a Child with Autism – Part Two

In my previous blog, I discussed how I helped my son get comfortable in his new digs. We started early, and visited the campus often.

Did we do anything else?

We made sure to NOT miss “Howdy Day.”

Howdy Day took place on the Monday BEFORE the start of school. It’s the week when the teachers are back, but not the students.

Howdy Day is extremely important. Your child must attend in order to get his/her schedule, books, and locker. They can also sign up for some clubs. Plus, they can walk around the campus, schedule in hand, and figure out how to get around from each assigned classroom.

How was Howdy Day for my son?

I thought it was a huge success.

First of all, we were warned that Howdy Day was typically crowded with long lines.

With that in mind, my son and I walked to school and arrived at Howdy Day early. We sat together during the Howdy Day administration welcome orientation.

Then, we headed off to get his schedule.

The gym was crowded, but the lines moved well and we got the schedule.

The next thing we did was get my son’s books. Again, this was a long line, but my son did okay with it.

After the books, we found his locker and practiced opening it. We put the books inside and headed off for a couple of trial runs.

What were the “trial runs?”

Practicing getting from one class to another.

I asked my son to show me the location of his first class. We found the class, then I asked him to walk me to his second class. Then, his third class. And, on and on.

We actually did the leg work here. We physically walked from class number one to class number two, all the way to his last class.

And, we did it twice.

We also figured out when would be a good time for him to visit his locker, and went he might not have enough time to do so. We also factored in recess and lunch, which would give him more time to get around, visit the bathroom, and visit his locker.

How did that go?

We left late that morning with my son’s schedule, his books and PE clothes, and a whole ton of confidence. My son seemed happy to have shown me around his school, specifically showing me where all of his classes were located.

His confidence made me feel great.

Did we do anything else?

Armed with my son’s schedule, (which listed classes and teacher names) and a list of email addresses found on the school’s website, I sent each teacher a brief email.

What was in the emails?

My intention was to introduce myself, but mostly introduce my son. I quickly explained my sons’ diagnosis while mentioning some common issues that he may have.

I reminded them that my son has an IEP, and hopefully they would review it before the start of school.

Mostly, my husband and I wanted to make sure that each teacher knew that we were involved parents and desire an open line of communication. If there’s a problem with our son, we wanted to help. They did not have to handle issues on their own. I wanted them to know that we support them. We can talk to our son to help out with any in-class issues.

Is that all I did?


I sent yet another email to the person in charge of special needs.

First, I wanted to again introduce ourselves and our son.

Second, I wanted to make sure we were on the same page with the special needs department.

My son was scheduled to again to get an aide, but we wanted something very specific from the aide because we wanted to wean our son from needing an aide.

We asked that the aide sit well behind our son in the classroom and let him walk the halls by himself. We wanted him to begin to feel like he didn’t have an aide. We feel this is important to help, eventually, get rid of the aide all together.

All of this, and school hadn’t even started yet!

In my next blog, I discuss the beginning of middle school for my child with autism.

More on Kimberly Kaplan:
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