Beginning school is an important moment for every child as well as their parents, and it could be more significant when your child is autistic.
signs of autism in infants
Apart from the typical mixed feelings about your child’s first day at “big school” It’s crucial to be prepared for this important event in your child’s life to be ready for what can be a challenging period of time.
During the school years of your child assistance from professionals as well as those from parents around them can prove extremely important.
An overview of the variety of support and services available for school-aged children with autism and their families is provided below.
Australian educational sectors
There are three schools segments in Australia The three sectors are: Independent, Government and Catholic schools.
In 2019, there were more than 10000 schools that were registered in Australia and 65 percent of which are funded by the government. A majority of expenses for these schools are covered through government agencies, including the Federal Government, but are added by states or territories.
Of the private schools that were not government-run (Independent as well as Catholic) more than two-thirds of them were Catholic in the year 2019.
Schools that are not government-run, such as Catholic or Independent offer tuition for compulsory and additional fees. They can be more expensive than public schools.
Whatever the school sector that they are part of, all schools in Australia are controlled by the same framework of standards for curriculum that is managed through the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.
Each sector has its specific guidelines for eligibility and funding to help meet the educational needs of children with disabilities which includes children with autism.
Options for schooling and the obligations
There are various schools within each of these sectors of education.
Some of these are:
- mainstream schooling
- Mainstream schooling and help
- Mainstream classes, with support from specialists.
- mixture of specialist and mainstream classes
- disabilities, special classes or units within mainstream schools
- Autism-specific classes or units within a mainstream school
- Special/disability-related schools
- Autism specific schools
- Home schooling
Every educational field has its own requirements for eligibility for students to attend different schools. It is usually determined by the needs of an individual, co-occurring issues (such ones that cause intellectual disability) or any additional requirements like hearing loss or low vision or the location and accessibility.
The school should explain the possibilities offered to you. You can also talk to your child’s teachers, and experts your child works with on the most appropriate choice for your child.
Schools use different models of funding, as well as guidelines on how the funds are utilized, and can include personnel for support (such as teachers’ aids or special support) equipment, or the resources needed that support training and professional development. It is helpful to inquire about any additional funds your child could be qualify for, and also to participate in discussions with your school staff about the needs of your child.
Whichever industry you pick the schools must be aware of their responsibilities in the area of supporting students who have a disability. Similar educational opportunities must be offered for all children in Australia which includes children with autism. Additionally, schools must make appropriate modifications to the curriculum of students as well as the school environment when it is necessary and feasible.
Picking an institution
The right institution for your child can be a crucial choice for all parents and guardians, however there is no one answer as to what is the best option that your child needs.
The decision should be based on which school or option is best suited to give your child the development support they require to succeed.
The Department for Education in South Australia recognizes that successful and enjoyable school learning experiences of children as well as teens with autism spectrum disorders depend on a range of factors that are listed below:
- The awareness and knowledge that school administrators and teachers are aware of regarding autism and the effects of autism on learning and participation.
- How can schools meet the learning needs of children who are on the autism spectrum from a whole-school as well as a the perspective of classroom teaching and learning.
- Making use of an individual’s strengths and desires throughout the course which includes educational and social learning opportunities.
- Establishing and maintaining positive and valuable relationships between school and families.
There isn’t a single size that fits all in the world of schooling However, prior to deciding on the right school, you might think about these things:
- Begin planning as early as you can to ensure that the needs of your kid are taken care of;
- Find out about the options that are offered to your child
- Find information on schools in your neighborhood through websites, your own network educators and parent support groups as well as other professional organizations;
- Contact the school. You might want to ask questions , such as:
- What are the principles that are carried at your school?
- What is the school’s approach to the inclusion of students?
- Are you able to have staff member who supervises the support of students who have special requirements?
- Did your employees receive training or participated in professional development opportunities in support of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
- What modifications and accommodations were made at your school to help students with a variety of learning requirements?
- What are the best opportunities to allow our child an area to be able to relax and unwind?
- What is your school’s policy in terms of mentorship or other buddy-related programs?
- What is your school’s behaviour policy?
- What is your school’s policy on harassment and bullying?
- What are the roles of parents in giving student learning plans that are individualised for each child?
- How can parents get in touch with staff and teachers about their child’s personalised learning program?
Certain schools will have certain requirements to be met in order to allow your child to choose alternative schools. However, be aware that you know your child better than anyone else so the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, and is a decision for the entire family.
Be sincere in your discussions with your school about your child’s needs , so that they are able to prepare planning, organising, and implementing any assessments, training, or support plan if necessary.
After a school has been selected, it’s recommended to plan ahead of time to make the time of transition to school.
This allows you to keep track of questions that require answers, and help your child prepare for change.
Parents frequently find it beneficial working with the school to come up with an appropriate Transition Plan that could include the transition Booklet to your kid.
Transition Plans can contain details and plans around:
- Time and dates for scheduled meeting times and dates.
- Time, dates, and length of visits to transition.
- Who will assist the transition visits.
- The process is for the first visit.
- Plan to visit different places as well as people and activities on every time.
- Transfer existing support systems that are used in pre-schools to the school.
- Make copies of any supports or strategies that are used at home and at school.
- Information on how the home-school communications systems will function.
- Information about mentors and the buddy system.
- Find a person and a place who your child could be able to go to should they feel overwhelmed.
- Information about the rules and procedures of the school.
The Transition Booklet may be developed for your child’s use to aid the transition. It could contain:
- Information about school rules, including the school boundaries.
- Images or photographs of the surrounding area, such as playgrounds, classrooms library, special lessons, canteens and office space.
- Photographs or images of the classes routines, like to pack your school bag and where to line up and outlines of the classroom, such as the best place to store items like bags or drink bottles and also where to stand and the best place to where to sit.
- Photos of classrooms and other important areas, such as the library, the canteen and playgrounds.
Parents may help their children to write a book or a letter to the new school or teacher to welcome them. This may include:
- Their name and their age
- Who do they live with?
- Pets they have
- What do they like about them?
- What they don’t like about
- What are their strengths?
- What are the things they find difficult
- Which strategies work best for them?
- How can staff and teachers help them when they become uprooted
This data can be useful in helping to meet the needs of your child as well as to create a positive bond between the teacher and student.
Support for school
Although school is an excellent opportunity to develop youngsters and children diagnosed with autism have significantly greater than likely be in need of additional education or support programs than counterparts.
Every educational sector, whether either Government, Catholic or Independent, employs a different model of education and typically have their own way of providing support and services for students who have additional needs.
In many schools, staff and teachers are often supported by an educator who has specialist education in assisting students with special requirements in the classroom.
Schools are often assisted by specialists from their area through face-to-face or telephone consultations.
Every school in the state or territory sector, whether it is government, Catholic or Independent offers various types of support to students with special disabilities. The support offered to your child dependent on many variables, including the location of their need as well as the effect of their disability in the school environment, their the child’s age and their educational field.
The school you attend may receive funds for the child’s help from a specialist, to get group interventions or access specialized equipment that can meet your child’s requirements. Schools can also receive funding to hire the right therapist or other professional who can assist your child’s school.
It is possible that you will need to devote time with the school you child attends to ensure the highest results for their education talking with your child’s principal, teacher or deputy principal is often the first step in finding whether your child might be eligible for additional assistance.
A lot of children who have a disability such as autism can be eligible for a type of an individual education also known as learning plans. This includes information on the strengths and weaknesses of the child as well as strategies and adjustments required within the school setting to help your child achieve their objectives.
Individual learning or educational plans usually include modifications to the learning environment along with assessments and reports.
The plans can also outline other requirements or technology that can help your child to develop for example. alternative arrangements for seating also, augmentative and alternative communications (AAC) tools.
The school must also think about the learning environment of students Assessment and reporting the curriculum, planning, and learning to accommodate student needs.
Schools have support staff that can help you and your child determine what your child’s needs are So, be sure to consult them regarding their support staff as well as the options for classrooms.
Tips for parents and caregivers of schoolchildren:
- Maintain communication with your school honest and open.
- Work with the school to enhance the impact of the partnership.
- Ask many questions.
If you are experiencing ongoing issues or require assistance, you can call any nearest autism advocacy group to get help or you can ask your GP to send your child and you towards an Autism Consultant the Occupational Therapist or Developmental Therapist who will work with your child’s school and you to develop a program.
Graduating from school
After your child has finished school, they might be thinking about further studies.
SLES (School Leavers Employment Support) (SLES) is an early intervention plan for school leavers in Year 12. It’s designed to assist you in your transition from school into employment.
There are many programs, typically operated by disability or autism service providers, that help youngsters prepare to seek, and eventually get work. They collaborate together with you to offer specific, individualised capacity-building actions to help you reach your goals in employment.
signs of autism in infants
There are many resources and services available to assist your child throughout their time at school , for example, the creation of assessments and plans including occupational therapy, speech therapy as well as individual and consulting help.
Certain supports and services for your child might be provided through the NDIS your state or territory government, the school sector in which you work.
A number of state and territory autism organizations offer group programs and courses for young people and children with autism.
In general, these classes focus on enhancing your child’s social and emotional skills. They can also be focused on topics like creating friendship and conversation abilities, managing anxiety and stress-relieving skills for daily living (eg meal planning, meal preparation and cooking) handwriting, interest groups.
A multidisciplinary team that includes teachers and teacher assistants as well as occupational therapists, speech pathologists psychologists, psychologists and other support professionals, like developmental educators typically run these groups. They are usually held in the community, school or clinic settings.
Contact your local autism association in the state or territory to find a local autism group within your region.
If you are parents of children who is autistic it is possible to think about joining a supportive group at some time. Support groups are excellent ways to share your experiences and create friends, and also to talk about the challenges and successes of living a day-to-day existence for a child who has autism.
The state autism association can give you information on support groups in your region and you can also enroll in a national support programme like MyTime that provides assistance for grandparents, parents and caregivers of children who have disabilities or chronic illnesses (not particular to autism).
It is also possible to think about joining the parent club at the school where your child is to connect with other parents from your neighborhood and become part of the school’s community.
There is also a large variety of support groups on the internet available to carers and parents of children who have autism. An extensive list of facebook groups is available via the Parent Connect website.
Sometimes it’s difficult choosing a school, or working with one in order to ensure that your child’s requirements are being fulfilled.
If that’s the case, you may prefer to seek out education advocacy to receive additional help and guidance. Advocate for your child in school who has autism requires engaging with organizations, people and service providers to meet your child’s requirements.
For instance, you could need an advocate to help you with obtaining support for your child’s education or help when meeting with government agencies to ensure your child gets the funds they need to meet their needs.
If you need help in to get started the process, an advocacy program could be a good option. Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia is a national organization specifically representing individuals who have autism as well as their parents. The group regularly creates and promotes policies for the nation and provides reports on the outcomes.
There are families advocacy groups that are based in the state that are often run through Legal Aid – to support families in defending and promoting the rights and interests of those who have autism or any other disabilities that affect development.
Extra-curricular and recreational activities are crucial for children who have autism because they offer your child opportunities to build the skills of social interaction, physical ability and improve motivation, frequently increasing self-confidence.
There’s a variety of recreation activities that children in school with autism may be involved with . Some of them are open to all children in the community, and some might be geared towards children with disabilities or autism.
The choice of a recreational activity for your child is contingent on their interests, budget, your transport needs as well as individual requirements, and the availability of local groups.
Most schools have an array of athletic artistic, civic and extra-curricular activities.
To learn about recreational activities that are in your community which are accessible to every child, an online search can provide some suggestions. It is also possible to locate some opportunities by asking the other families living in your neighborhood or talking to the staff at your child’s school or contact the local government.
The state or territory autism organization can give you information on which autism-specific activities are available to you.
In Australia swimming is an essential aspect of childhood. However, for children who are autistic swimming may pose some difficulties. A few autistic kids may be able to take part in school or community swimming classes, whereas others might require a modified program.
A majority of states and territories provide modified programs specifically for children with autism or other disabilities. For programs that are regular, you should you should contact your local council, your school or your local swimming pool.
Transitioning from school to high school, adjusting to routines and dealing with daily school life can affect the child’s health and, specifically the mental wellbeing of their child.
Teenagers and children with autism are more likely to be anxious than children of other ages, which can affect their enjoyment as well as education at school. It can may cause them to not want to, or even being able to attend school.
Before your child begins primary school, making familiar with the school’s environment and surroundings is an excellent way to ease anxiety. You might like to:
- Visit the website of the school;
- Learn to walk to school;
- Visit with teachers and staff in the classroom;
- Make use of a calendar to count down days;
Design a booklet for their transition by using photos and pictures of the children’s new school.
Be sure that they have where to go to if they’re struggling.
Visual strategies can also assist your child cope with separation issues Consider showing your child photos of them at school and also a photo of your work or home as well as a picture of you preparing to pick them up after the school day is over.
In helping your child with autism get through the school environment, effective communication is crucial, particularly in the event that they’re suffering from anxiety.
The most useful and practical actions you can take as a parent or caregiver is to write a single-page document that contains written recommendations to assist staff to understand the child’s diagnosis. It could contain information on the following:
- Things that they struggle with
- Triggers to help with anxiety;
- Strategies that work Strategies that work for them; and
- How teachers and staff members can help them.
This document needs to be updated and reviewed regularly.
It is also important working with the school to develop strategies to reduce anxiety during school. A few strategies could be:
- Create an Transition Booklet for students who are transitioning to a new school/class.
- Set up a space that children can go to if they’re anxious. This could be break-roomsor a “Quiet Zone or a Sensory Room or even an activity during breaks, such as an area they can walk around or to, or an area where they can drink from.
- Create a calming box or a ‘pleasure book’ which the person can glance at or read that will bring them back to their senses. It can contain photos of pets as well as places that can help to calm.
- Set up a way to access the area or routine whenever they need to for example break cards or a sign, etc.
- Making Access Cards that the individual could give to a temporary teachers or staff. The cards provide important details about their anxiety levels and how it could affect students within the class.
- Work on identifying the anxiety feeling and finding ways to ease the feeling in the course of time.
It may be helpful to have a primary contact at your school, such as an instructor in the classroom or counsellor, or perhaps the school psychologist who you can reach regularly, should the is necessary in person, over the telephone or email.
Regularly communicating with the person ensures that everyone is aware of what your child’s feelings are. You may also consult your primary contact person for suggestions on strategies that they employ to deal with anxiety and use the strategies at home.
Your child must also have a designated contact at school who they are comfortable speaking to in case they require help like a counsellor or student wellbeing coordinator or school psychologists are a great starting point.
Eating disorders and Autism
A few studies suggest that girls suffering from anorexia are above average in amount of autistic traits.
While autism is usually diagnosed for males (link to the page about prevalence) However, research suggests that a significant proportion of girls in the early stages of autism might be overlooked or misdiagnosed due to their presenting with anorexia.
If you suspect your child or teenager who has autism might have the symptoms of an eating disorder speak to your GP.
Classrooms are social settings where students are required to interact and socialize with other students.
The difficulties that teens or children diagnosed with autism might face in terms of being social and communicating at school may cause an increase in anxiety and stress.
Social-emotional issues can hinder a student’s ability to connect with their peers and academic performance.
If you’re worried that your teenager or child may require additional support for their emotional needs at school The first step is to reach out with your school’s wellbeing counselor, coordinator or psychologist.
School bullying could have an consequences for children diagnosed with autism.
There is a connection between the effects of bullying and unhappy students at school. This can result in feelings of unsafety in school, low self-esteem , and low social skills.
To prevent bullying, parents and schools, as well as communities, must enforce a zero tolerance policy against bullying, while creating an inclusive and accepting atmosphere.
If you believe your child is being bullied or when your child has informed you that they’re victimized, the most appropriate source of information is your child’s teacher or the school’s principal.
Strategies for dealing with bullies:
- Discuss your child’s needs with them.
Ask your child what’s taking place, then listen to their responses and ask them what they feel. Do not get annoyed or angry, because your response could stop your child from talking to you should the bullying continue. If your child is finding difficult to speak ask them to write down what’s going on and what they think about it. Be sure to respond positively to them, and ensure they understand that you trust the story or their experience and that it’s not the fault of them. Remind them that they’re not the only ones suffering and that they have assistance.
- Keep a diary
Note all incidents, including who was in the incident who was involved, the actions or words spoken and any actions school personnel or teachers might take.
- Talk with the school
Schedule a meeting the child’s school teacher or director about the situation and request an outline that outlines the school’s antibullying policies and inquire about what advice they would give. Take note of their responses and record them for your records. Discuss your ideas or suggestions that you believe could be helpful. Take the initiative to acknowledge your child’s demands. After the meeting, email the principal or teacher an email with a list of the actions discussed to ensure that there is an account of the meeting.
- Communication and social training
Discuss with your child their differences and help them understand that everyone is unique. You can also assist your child develop the development of social skills and communication that can help them develop the ability to recognize the feelings of the children in their lives. Some people find that writing a narrative about their social lives is beneficial for children who have to deal with bullying as it can provide them with ways to respond in the event of a situation, and also help them get help from the appropriate people.
- Establish a caring community
Contact the principal or teacher to suggest the children in your school that could be able to be a friend to your child at the playground. This will help them increase their social circle as well as provide a loving and supportive environment beyond the classroom. The friends or peers could also be able to teach other students at school about autism in order to increase the awareness of and appreciation for differences.
- Autism awareness within parents
Make yourself the advocate of your child’s interests by bringing awareness to the autism spectrum among your parents as well as the different abilities and differences that come with it. This can help in changing the way parents communicate in the home. This can eventually have an effect on the way children see differences.
Relationships and puberty
The romantic and social aspects of relationships can be challenging for anyone however, they can be especially challenging for children and teens who have autism.
The transition to puberty can be difficult for some teenagers, but when you are autistic too this can make it difficult to manage. Hormonal changes can affect mood, and could impact mental health. Therefore, teens on the spectrum might require more help to comprehend their autism and themselves in their development as they grow older as they reach puberty and settling into relationships with someone else.
Relations Australia is an organization that offers support for relationships for families, individuals, and communities . They can help all individuals to build respect and positive relationships.
They provide counseling and group programs, classes as well as mental health assistance and relationships building programs specifically tailored to autism.
In short term, care or accommodation
Being a parent to the child or teenager who has autism can be emotional physical and mentally demanding. To ensure that you’re able to help your child at times, it’s beneficial to break for a while. You may want to consider alternatives for short-term care.
This could include inviting family members or friends to assist your child teenagers who has autism or even your other children for a limited time, during the time you engage in an activity like going to the cinema or take a stroll or even over night so you can take an opportunity to take a break for a few minutes.
Alternately, you might have the option of obtaining paid assistance, or even short-term accommodation which allows someone to care for your teenager or child so that you and your child time to relax, rest and recover. It doesn’t matter if the time is short time or for a couple of weeks, it is sometimes able to help your physical and emotional well-being, as well as your family.
In short-term care and accommodation may be sought out occasionally or on a regular basis. It can happen in your home or in another location.
The children’s siblings and children with autism also require time off at least once in a while. Siblings Australia is an excellent organization that assists in improving the respite and assistance services offered to siblings of adults and children with chronic conditions , including disabilities, chronic illness or mental illnesses. They also provide assistance to carers and parents through webinars, workshops and online newsletters.