Transition Time - preparing for a new school year with my child with ASD

After a lengthy spell of relative calm, fewer night issues and easier mornings we noticed that our son with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) was becoming anxious and stressed and therefore less cooperative.

We are still quite new to all of this and it took a while to realise he was stressing about moving to a new class with a new teacher when he moves into year 4 next September - thankfully he is verbally adept and could tell us about his worries!

I had assumed because our school is so small and he knows (and loves) his new teacher and the room he is going to that e would take it in his stride. Turns out he was concerned about where he might sit, who he might sit next to and if he would have a safe space like he has in his current room.

I wonder if he's also worrying about his sister moving up to secondary and leaving him "alone" at primary? He hasn't voiced that and I don't know whether to bring it up. Has he realised? Will it make things worse?

For him I imagine he prospect of so many things changing is a bit like going through a door into the darkness - he has no idea what lies beyond and would very much prefer to stay where he is which seems relatively safe.

One thing I have learned about issues which cross over from school to home and vice versa is that it pays to keep the lines of communication very much open with school staff. I am lucky in that Grumpy's teacher makes time pretty much every day for a swift handover, even if it's just for a thumbs up or down across the playground!

Once we realised how concerned he was about moving from his current class the school quickly implemented an extended transition plan for him - the plan is for him spend an extra day or two in the new classroom with a friend on top of the transition sessions already planned for the whole class.

Staff are in the process of making a photo book for him with pictures of his new room, chair, staff and other things so he can remind himself throughout the holiday of where he will be going. We plan to use it as a start point for conversations to try and keep on top of any building anxiety.

Going forward I have decided to avoid buying new things for September as much as possible. While some children love getting a new bag, lunch box, coat and uniform Grumpy finds comfort in familiar things so he will stick with his current equipment until he's ready to change them at his own pace.

If he needs new shoes I will let him wear them in before school starts as comfort is key for him. It may be for the first couple of days/weeks I allow him to wear his favourite t-shirts under his school polo shirt. Sometimes he wears the same t-shirt for days (and nights!) without wanting to take it off or allowing me to wash it - I've found in the past this helps him during stressful times and luckily there's no BO issue yet so it's not a big deal.

I've just filled out a sensory assessment form for him so the school can keep track on any flashpoints he might have. They've also asked for my tips on how I think they can help him cope with transition - if your school doesn't offer this, why not jot some down and proffer them in a friendly "thought this might be helpful" kinda way.

I've seen lots of "autism parents" chatting about their transition experiences and concerns this week so if any parents or teachers reading this have any tips please feel free to leave them in the comment box below.