We’re past the halfway mark of 2017, and you are forgiven for beginning to cast your eyes towards the new year and all of the exciting (and daunting) encounters it may bring. For a number of our AEIOU families, the biggest challenge is seeing your little boy or girl move on from our service and into their next educational setting. Sometimes this can be a greater challenge for parents than it is for the children themselves!
For our staff, they work for this moment. Our aim is to best prepare the children to succeed in their next setting, and in later life. The journey isn’t always smooth sailing, but every step, every goal, and every data point is all in service of this overarching goal. There’s a common theme passed around when we talk about our service: “learning to learn”. This is perhaps best exemplified in our autism-specific curriculum, where pre-requisite skills are identified to help move towards success at school. We’re not just focused on academic success though. Skills shown to improve success at school include, but are not limited, to:
- Tolerating changes
- Transitioning between activities and locations
- Attending to instructions
- Social skills
- Waiting for a turn
- Playing with others
The value of teaching skills like these can at times be over-looked. School is more than just learning literacy and numeracy, it’s learning about life. Teaching a child strong social skills allows them to learn from others when a teacher is not present. Teaching a child to transition to other locations opens them up to new experiences that they can then learn from. Many families will be currently going through, or have just completed, the process of setting their child’s new Individual Plan for the rest of the year, so now is a great time to be thinking about the skills that will help smooth out the transition process for your child.
Remember, if you have reservations about your child moving on, that is completely normal. The good news is; you’re not alone. Every year, children ‘graduate’ from our service and move on to ‘big school’. Drawing from both evidence-based research, and stories from our previous families, we know that preparation is key to making the transition to school as successful as possible. Consistency across settings and open communication about current strategies used with your child (such as any visual supports required, PECS, Positive Behaviour Support Plans, etc.) aid the process as well. In addition, practice makes perfect. If, for example, your child may not tolerate the type of fabric used in their school uniform, then speak to your team at AEIOU about a strategy to help. Practicing skills like this before you get to school increases the likelihood of a successful transition. We are also happy for schools to come out to our AEIOU centres and see our staff working with your child, so they can get a better understanding of your child’s strengths and areas of need.
The good thing is that there are a lot of resources out there to help guide you through the process. To add to this pool of resources, and steer you towards others that may help, each AEIOU centres has workshops coming up to explain more about the process and how AEIOU can help. Even if your child is not moving on to school next year, it may be beneficial to start thinking about it now. Please check out the workshop calendar to find when the next session will be run at your centre.
While we are always sad to see children leave our service, we are extremely proud of how far each child comes and excited about the amazing opportunities our early intervention program opens up.
And, if your child is heading off to school, please don’t forget about us! Our staff absolutely love hearing about how you get on and it’s such a thrill to receive a visit from past students and families.
About the author:
Ian Cronin is a Program Coordinator at AEIOU Foundation and a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). In his role at AEIOU, Ian provides supervision and training to program managers across AEIOU’s nine centres, continually reviewing the AEIOU curriculum for evidence based quality improvement
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