We spoke to Autism Unravelled about how to ease your SEND child back into school
A recent study by Ofsted found that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have been particularly hard-hit by changes to their schooling and their lives in general. Though this is not the case for all, some have struggled to cope without access to external support from education and healthcare professionals. While others have lost essential communication skills due to reduced opportunities to socialise.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
So what can parents do to help their children with SEND transition back into school over the next few weeks and months?
ASK FOR A MEETING – VIRTUAL OR IN-PERSON
To help reduce anxiety, you could ask to have a meeting with someone your child is familiar with from school so they can chat through the return. If possible, a walk around the school might be helpful. Otherwise, seeing some photos of the places they usually spend time in could help.
USE SOCIAL STORIES OR VISUAL AIDS
It might be helpful to talk through some of the changes in place at school, especially protective and distancing measures. We recommend using social stories or visual aids for this. These will help you talk through any changes with your child and help to reinforce it before they return to the actual setting.
ASK ABOUT BUBBLES/GROUPS
If the school is using bubbles or smaller groups, you might want to ask about which staff member/s and children will be with your child. You could ask for them to be with someone they already know and this will help with settling back in.
ADJUSTING TO NEW INSTRUCTIONS
It may be tricky for your child to understand why they have to walk the long way around or go in a certain direction. This is especially confusing when there’s a more direct route. So again, ensure these new rules have been explained as well as possible. Could your child also leave a few minutes earlier to avoid some of the crowds and give them more time to navigate?
ASK FOR HELP
Your child may feel disorientated by things like their desk being moved or being picked up from a different place. Could you ask the school to keep the desk in the same place as before lockdown? Or to pick them up where you did before? Minimising changes may help with the new routine and environment.
Autism Unravelled is an independent organisation established by experienced practitioners. They offer comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessments for children and adults and specialise in post-diagnostic training.
You can also find more information about ways to help your child here: https://www.elsa-support.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Back-to-school-March-update.pdf