Disclosure:: This post is sponsored by Touchstone.
Back to School Yields Different Challenges for Parents of Children with Autism
With COVID-19 at the forefront of everyone’s mind and back to school procedures being discussed across the state, parents are nervously anticipating what the upcoming school year will look like. Parents of children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (a disorder characterized by deficits in social skills and communication skills and excesses in restrictive and repetitive behaviors) or other developmental differences may have additional concerns.
Tips for successful distance learning:
Many schools are beginning the school year with a hybrid of in-person and online instruction.
Some families may utilize online instruction more frequently in the fall. Here are a few helpful considerations to enhance online learning for students.
- Internet access and devices – check with your local school officials, libraries and advocacy groups for assistance in obtaining devices and internet access if you are in need.
- Use daily schedules and calendars for you and your children to help learn new school routines and anticipate “what’s coming next” during the day or the week.
- Set up a designated work space for your child.
- Use positive reinforcement – frequently and immediately after desired behaviors, deliver your child’s highly preferred items and activities to increase and maintain those
- Incorporate a homework system and routine in your child’s schedule to allow for independent work and designated study time.
- Have highly preferred activities follow less preferred activities.
- Incorporate your child’s interests into his or her learning plan.
- Allow your child to connect with friends via Facetime, Zoom or other similar platforms contingent on completing schoolwork.
Touchstone ABA has expanded its telehealth services, adding staff and availability for families to access ABA sessions online via Facetime, Zoom and other similar platforms to provide support during this time.
What to ask if your child is returning to school
For children with autism and other developmental differences, new behavioral expectations in school may be particularly challenging this fall. School systems opting for in-person schooling will be implementing new rules and procedures to keep students and faculty safe and healthy. Here are a few areas* to consider if you’re a parent of a child with a developmental difference:
- Smaller class sizes: Can my child be placed with a friend or in a familiar classroom?
- Desk placement: Can my child be placed in the location that works best for him/her? Such as near the teacher or at the end of the row?
- Masks: What are the expectations for my child? How will my child be helped with complying with mask requirements?
- More frequent hand washing: Can my child use a particular hand sanitizer?
- No sharing of toys: Can my child have selected toys with which only he/she can play?
- Transitions between areas: Can my child be accompanied to assist with social distancing? Can my child begin transitions a few minutes earlier?
- Changes in instruction, lunch or break locations: If my child needs a break from the group, is there a safe place he/she can go?
- Outside instruction: Are there any special considerations your child may require if being taught outside (i.e. a familiar blanket to sit on or sunglasses)?
- Less opportunities for physical movement around school: Can my child have extra “movement” breaks?
- Longer toileting procedures: Can my child have priority?
- Teaching new safety and health behaviors: What prompts and reinforcers will be used to teach and maintain behavioral expectations for my child?
All the new school health and safety procedures likely involve behaviors that students who learn differently are unfamiliar with, so adapting and adhering to them may be challenging for some students. Behavioral strategies such as prompting, shaping and reinforcement have been shown to be effective in teaching and maintaining new behaviors.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our team has conducted formal assessments for each client’s individual needs to determine best practice treatment locations. We have continued to offer in-person services to clients with significant challenging behaviors. In doing so, our staff is adhering to stringent health precautionary measures, including health screenings, frequent temperature checks of staff and clients and frequent sanitation procedures. We remain committed to collaborating with our clients’ parents and caregivers, schools and other service providers to achieve the best possible outcomes.
At Touchstone ABA, our credentialed staff provides state of the art, research driven ABA services. Our clinical clients include children and adults with autism, learning and language differences and/or other behavioral challenges. If you have concerns about your child’s development, contact our team for professional guidance. For children with autism and other developmental delays, an early intensive behavioral intervention is the key to bridging gaps in development and altering developmental paths.
Touchstone ABA is located in Lafayette at 812 St. Mary Blvd. For more information on Touchstone’s services, call (985) 446-6833, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.touchstoneaba.com. You can also follow us on Facebook at Touchstone ABA.
*Questions adapted from Back to School Guide for Parents
Janice is a Board Certified and Licensed Behavior Analyst, leading Touchstone ABA’s ParentSupport Team. Janice has a B.A. in Psychology from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Louisiana State University. As a parent of a child that benefited from ABA, Janice became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2006.