The jitters have gone. Primary school is a thing of the past. My child with Autism is in high school heaven. Yes, you read correctly – heaven.
Okay, so it’s only day two but for those of you who know the impact of change on a person with Autism you will understand that this is a major achievement. How did this happen? Apart from my child demonstrating amazing resilience, proud mumma moment, it was a product of excellent planning and support. Planning by the learning support teams at both schools and planning by the mental health nurse practitioner that my child sees.
Since mid last year we have all been working together to smooth this transition. I know it sounds like a long time but, in the scheme of things, it is a blink of an eye. I believe that the decision to medicate [for more on our journey see To Medicate Or Not To Medicate] has made a huge difference. My child suffers less from anxiety and they are more able to utilise the strategies they have been taught for the last few years. It also helps that we have a professional that not only works with my child but with my husband and I to understand Autism.
I take my hat off to the learning support coordinator at the primary school. She communicated with the high school and tailored a transition list for my child. She kept me in the loop on everything and worked weekly through the list through-out the last term. She took my child to the first transition day and debriefed with them after. When she offered to attend other transition days she was met with that ‘are you serious’ stare. We both giggled at that.
The high school organised the transition days with extreme efficiency. Helping the children, whoops-young adults, become familiar with other students in the same position. They got to know each other, explore the school and meet the staff that would be working with them. New school, new people, new structure, normally melt down territory but when I picked up my child they were actually bursting with happiness. Amongst the incessant chatter they said;
“Oh my gosh Mum it was awesome. There are so many kids like me. I’m not alone anymore”
Now I am a bit emotionally challenged but that pulled on my heart strings. I was so relieved to know we were heading in the right direction I actually did a happy dance.
The high school had two separate transition days, more were available if needed, and the main orientation day. They gave the young adults a printed copy of everything they did and learned on these days so that they could go over everything at home. This meant that for the last three months of the year my child spend time at high school or reviewing what they learned at home. The end result – excitement.
So how did I contribute? By doing normal things really. I made sure that I was available for any questions. I scheduled an appointment with the mental health nurse the week before school went back. I purchased all school stationary when the book list was released so we had it early. I made an appointment for the uniform fitting so that it was a peaceful experience. I labelled everything with the help of my child and finally, I was prepared to pack and unpack the bag as much necessary to satisfy my child that all items were in the bag ready.
It was my eldest child that passed on the following wisdom;
“You will meet assholes, but don’t buy into their crap and you will be fine.”
This seemed to have a greater influence than anything I said.
To highlight what was successful in anxiety management and a smooth transition:
- Open communication with all parties
- Transition lists
- Transition days
- Support from family, friends and professionals
I hope this helps you on your journey.
For more tips I recommend :