When are kids ready for school?
Every year, millions of young children with special needs enter school with issues that put them far behind their peers and have a lasting negative effect on their ability to meet their full potential. We know the first eight years of children’s lives are years of incredible learning that shape their futures. This, alone, is a reason to assure that all children have access to the resources they will need to learn, progress and grow. The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center reports that we are now spending less per child today than we did nearly ten years ago, because states continue to reduce their budgets for early education services. The Indiana Resource Center for Autism (IRCA) has also published data and research that instructional assistants, who can often have little to no training or education for the children they work with, are doing more and more of the direct instruction with children as teachers are focused on other requirements such as paperwork and legal requirements.
These factors along with many others have lead some parents to question if their child is prepared to attend school or even if the school is prepared for them to attend.
What can happen when a child transitions to school too early?
- Increase in problematic behaviors
- Regression of language skills including receptive language such as following direction
- Regression of social and play skills with peers
- Regression of daily living and other functional skills both in school and at home
- Inability to progress with peers and possibly put into more restrictive classroom placements including special education
Why can this happen when a child goes to school without a proper transition?
- A transition plan doesn’t occur or doesn’t occur properly including enough time
- School staff lacking background information and experience with the child
- School staff lacking knowledge, training or experience with individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs
What can we do if this happens?
- If the child is struggling and even failing, returning to ABA services might be necessary even if only temporarily
- If the child is beginning to struggle, putting a formal transition plan and having school staff work with and observe the behavior analyst as training could be necessary
- Request a case conference/IEP or meeting with the school to determine necessary training and goals for the child
- Although children can attend our services and also attend school, consistency and collaboration are key for the success of each child.