Making Preschool Fun For Children With Autism

Posted on: 6 April 2016

For many parents of children with autism, preschool enrollment can be a difficult and stressful decision. Although autistic children often struggle with social interactions and can become overwhelmed in unfamiliar situations, preschool is also an invaluable space to begin teaching them the practical social skills they will need in school and adult life.  These are four ways to make the transition to preschool as painless and fun as possible for both you and your child with autism. 

Communicating With Your Teacher and Child

Because children with autism often have trouble communicating their inner thoughts and concerns, it is especially important for you to act as an intermediary between child and teacher. Explain your child's condition and functionality to the teacher, who should be willing to work with you to reasonably accommodate special needs. At the same time, watch your child closely to monitor his or her mental state. Some autistic children love the structure and organization of school, while others struggle to keep up with assignments and their peers. Encouraging good habits and implementing a daily time and place to do homework can keep your child's attitude toward school positive without harming school performance.   

Improving Social Skills Constructively

Similarly, ask your preschool teacher about your child's progress with his or her classmates throughout the year. Excessive bullying or isolation can foster a toxic atmosphere and may be a sign that your child might be more comfortable in a specialized program. If, on the other hand, your child manages to make a friend or two, it can significantly improve his or her ability to communicate and relate with others later on. 

Emphasizing and Encouraging Your Child's Interests

Autism is typically marked by repetitive behavior, including an intense interest or obsession with certain subjects. If, for example, your child loves dinosaurs, try framing alphabet lessons and art projects around them. Read books about dinosaurs out loud and encourage your child to follow along with the words and pictures. This will help hold your child's attention, build self-esteem and put difficult concepts into a more fun and familiar context. 

Avoiding Overwhelming Your Child

As intelligent and creative as autistic children can be, you and your child's teacher must also be able to recognize and deal with meltdowns, which are more likely to occur in stressful environments like a classroom. Explain to the teacher that your child is not acting out to be difficult, and recommend a safe, quiet space for your child to retreat to in the case of a meltdown. By treating these outbursts as a minor interruption and not shameful bad behavior, you and the teacher can avoid humiliating your child and reinforce the idea of school as a safe and accepting environment. With the right attitude and a little extra diligence, you can help your child transition into school with all of the right tools for success. 

For more information, contact a company like Montessori School Of Salt Lake Inc