Term 4 is notoriously difficult for autistic students. Routines have changed, classrooms are noisy with excited, tired students (and staff) and all sorts of strange activities, excursions and extra assemblies are held. This all sounds pretty overwhelming, doesn’t it?
Here’s how to help:
- Reduce expectations and requirements. School staff find this time of year exhausting – remember that it’s even more overwhelming for autistic students.
- Make sure autistic students have access to quiet sensory spaces.
- Use sensory equipment such as noise cancelling headphones, visual schedules and communication systems to help students understand what is happening, and cope with all the changes.
- Increase sensory breaks – especially outside of the classroom (and away from others).
- Use a communication book, email or other system to keep parents in the loop about what’s coming up at school, so they can help prepare your autistic students.
- Reduce expectations and after school and weekend activities. Your autistic child(ren) are likely to be struggling more than usual with emotional and sensory regulation.
- Encourage rest, quiet time, sensory regulation activities and time spent engaging in special interests. Your autistic child(ren) needs support to recover and recharge their social batteries after trying to cope with school all day.
- Consider taking a day (or more if needed) off school, possibly mid-week to recover, so that your child(ren) can cope with the rest of the week. Remember – as Term 4 progresses, there are fewer important learning activities happening.
Most importantly, both schools and families need to work together to support autistic students at this time of year.