Sunday, September 25, 2011

Autism's Back-to-School Anxiety

As the school year gets under way, incoming students are adjusting to a new schedule and new teachers, navigating their classes and peer groups, and generally struggling to figure themselves out. But for children on the autism spectrum, the return to the classroom can be much more complex. What are some of the unique challenges that kids with autism face during back-to-school season?
As a former college professor and the mother of a 12-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, I can attest that the transition from carefree summer to the bustle and busyness of back-to-school season can be a particularly tough time. These are harrying days for all kids, but for those on the spectrum, the challenges are more intense and different in kind. Children with autism typically struggle with novelty, and a new school year can bring an overwhelming flood of novelty—new teachers and classmates, a new physical space to become acclimated to, a new schedule and routine, new demands and expectations both academically and behaviorally.

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