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How to prepare your ASD child for middle school


For children leaving grade school, entering middle school can be a very trying time and a difficult adjustment. For children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), that transition poses more challenges than the average student could imagine.

“For children with ASDs, going to school is a habit. When it’s time to move on to a new school, that means the habit needs to be altered and that’s not as easy as explaining to them that this year they will be going to a new school,” said Dr. Jeff Robinson, Ph.D., founder of Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI), a company of behavioral clinicians specializing in the care of children with autism in Central Massachusetts. “The process of transitioning children with ASDs really needs to begin well before the school year.”

Robinson recommends several steps to help parents of children with ASDs help their middle school-age children make the transition to their new school:

  • Write a social story or series of stories to help the student prepare for the change
  • Allow the student to have as many visits to the new school as needed
  • Practice a walking route to classes and opening and closing their locker
  • Identify important areas such as: bus stop, homeroom, bathrooms, cafeteria, gym, etc.
  • Review the yearbook to familiarize with faculty and school activities during the year
  • Take the student to parent-teacher orientation
  • Practice scripts so the child knows where to get help and requesting for a quiet place to calm down (practice routes)
  • Prepare the student that each teacher has different rules and procedures

“While preparing your child is one thing, it’s important to communicate to administration and faculty at the new school that you have an ASD child attending middle school next year and would like to set up a time to meet and go over some things,” said Dr. Robinson. “That’s actually one of the reasons we formed BCI 10 years ago was to work with schools to ease the transition of ASD students at all grade levels.”

Based in Worcester, Mass and with offices in Mansfield and West Boylston, Mass., BCI provides much needed services to children with autism and their families. BCI instructional programs are delivered using discrete trial training, task analysis, and systematic prompting procedures implemented by ABA therapists who have successfully completed pre-service training, on-site, and quarterly evaluations by their clinical supervisors.

Instruction is provided across a variety of domains, included by not limited to: Activities of daily living, functional and augmentative communication, functional academics and community outings and safety awareness. Social skills groups with peer models are also offered as part of BCI’s services. A heavy emphasis is placed on generalization and maintenance of skills, in addition to family training, so that families may implement the supports and carry-over skills in the home.

BCI accepts Harvard-Pilgrim, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Behavioral Health, Tufts, Aetna and coverage from other major health care providers.

For complete information, visit http://bciaba.org or to arrange a consultation with a BCI clinician, please call (508) 363-0200.

About Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI)

Founded in 2002, BCI provides educational, behavioral, consultative and assessment services to children with autism and their families. These services are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and are tailored to the unique needs of the individuals BCI works with. It’s BCI’s goal to maximize student potential, increase independence and enhance our clients’ quality of life within their home, school and community.

BCI’s main care center is located at 170 Goddard Memorial Drive, in Worcester, Massachusetts. BCI operates its BASICS services at 100 Hartwell Street in West Boylston, Mass. The BASICS program is a sub-contract arrangement between Behavioral Concepts, Inc. and the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative. BASICS provides services to children aged 7-22 with autism and maladaptive behaviors. BCI’s Corporate Offices are located in Mansfield, Mass.

For complete information, visit http://bciaba.org or to arrange a consultation with a BCI clinician, please call (508) 363-0200.