Back to School Tips for Special Needs Children

There's much more to consider when going back to school than if your child's handwriting skills is up to par. A new year at school means new teachers, a new grade and possibly even a new school. To help you help your special needs child transition into a new school year, here are five back to school tips.

1. Review your Child's Existing Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Your child's cornerstone of their educational program is their IEP. Therefore, it's essential that you thoroughly review and understand it. Find out when your child's IEP expires and if you need to set up a reevaluation appointment. Also, make sure the current IEP still suits the needs of your child. You can always ask for an IEP review meeting if you're unsure.

2. Make Sure IEP Accommodations Are in Place

Simply reevaluating an IEP doesn't mean the school is accommodating it. Sit down with your child's teacher, case manager, guidance counselor and pediatric occupational therapist to find out if everything listed in the IEP is all set and ready to be implemented when your child starts school.

3. Relieve Anxiety

You can help reduce back-to-school jitters and anxiety by sitting down with your child and talking about the new upcoming school year. Discuss new and exciting activities, classes and events they could be participating while in school. If your child is older, it can help to talk with them about the accommodations and services of their IEP so they have an understanding of what to expect when they start school.

4. Get Ahead of the Game

Before school starts, make arrangements to tour the school with your child. It's helpful to locate their new classrooms, cafeteria, library, restrooms and gym. If they're entering middle school, practice opening up a locker with them. Meet the therapy team and school staff. Talk with their teachers about the upcoming daily routines and how they'll implement them. 

5. Help the Teachers and Staff Out

No one knows your child better than you do. You can help teachers and staff members keep your child focused and calm, interact with peers and manage difficult transitions by sharing ways you do this at home.

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