How To Help Children With Special Needs Get Organized For Back To School

Getting ready for the new school year can be hectic no matter what. But having a child with a disability means there are a few additional things to think about.

Whether your child has  Autism Spectrum Disorder, dyslexia, Downs Syndrome, or a physical impairment, here are a few general tips to help keep them on a track to success for the upcoming school year:

  1. Electronics: If your child uses any mode of assistive technology, from an iPad to take notes to a Dynavox to communicate, make sure that they are always charged. Develop a routine for charging them at a certain time every night (after your child has gone to bed, so they do not miss it). For communication devices, since they tend to have a shorter battery life, consider including an additional battery. Your child’s device is essential for his or her academic and social success, so make sure they are always ready to be used when your child heads off to school.
  2. Special Services: Your child may be in a special education classroom, but many children with disabilities receive additional services, too, like physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language therapy, etc. Try to have these appointments secured before the school year begins if they are offered by out-of-school providers. For in-school providers, check in with the appropriate personnel (a student services coordinator or a case manager) at the start of the school year to ensure that your children will be receiving all of the services that they are entitled to – it’s the law.
  3. Other Extracurriculars: Extracurriculars are an important part of any child’s development. Ask around for playgroups, swimming lessons, or maybe set up a regular play date. Many museums, libraries, community centers, zoos, and science centers have weekly groups for children with a range of abilities. The New York Transit Museum even has a special program for children on the autism spectrum who like trains! Setting the wheels in motion now will help reduce your stress as the school year commences.
  4. Hygiene & Safety: To make things easier for yourself, try to make a checklist of essentials that your children may need during the day, whether it’s diapers, pureed food, or other objects to enhance their daily living. In addition, send along important contact information, and give your child an identification badge or card with contact information so he/she can introduce themselves, even if they are non-verbal.
  5. Labels: Your child may lose his or her objects from time to time, so label them to make sure they find their way back! Labels can include: your child’s name, a contact phone number, your child’s school name, address, room number, and/or teacher’s name. Make labels to put on their backpacks, lunch boxes, and assistive technology devices.

Have a great school year!

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