Dear Dr. Amy:
My child was diagnosed with ASD in kindergarten and has attended the same elementary school since their diagnosis. This school year my child will be changing schools to attend middle school and is very worried about the new school. How can we best prepare for this change?
Scared of School
Dear Scared of School,
Changing schools can be a tough transition. Middle school in particular presents some unique challenges for everyone. Often the school is bigger, you change classes, classrooms, and teachers several times a day, you keep your books in a locker, and you meet new people. These things are exciting and scary at the same time.
One big worry people have about middle school is the moving from class to class throughout the school day. To help with this worry I suggest you go see your new school and meet some of your teachers before the school year starts. Also, if possible, get your class schedule and locate your classrooms and locker. Walk around the building and get an idea where things are: the library, lunchroom, and the bathroom. This way you will have an idea of where you are going before school begins. After school has been in session a few weeks if you find passing time to be too stressful, you might ask the school for early passing time to help with the stress.
Another difference between middle school and elementary school is that you keep your books in a locker. Organization will be key to success in middle school. You may want to color coordinate your schedule, along with your notebook and folder for each class. For example you may color code your English class red. This way you would get a red notebook and red folder for English class and only put things for English in that folder and notebook. Math class might be blue and you would have a blue folder and blue notebook and only put things for math class in that notebook. This color coding will provide you with a system to make sure you have everything you need from your locker for class. This way when doing your homework, you will know what folder to put the homework in when you are done.
Also make sure you keep your locker organized. Many stores sell different locker organization systems. Using one may help you to keep everything in your locker in its place.
Lastly keep in mind others are feeling the same worries you are feeling. By using these strategies, you can help yourself manage your worries.
Good luck with the new school year, and remember: you can do this.