Closing Out the School Year

Categories: ASD and DD, Child-focused

By Brittany Juban, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LABA
Summer is almost here, which means there are many changes in store for students with autism and their families! Taking the time to do some planning now will not only help you prepare for the coming summer months, but will also help to make sure that you and your student are prepared for next year.

Below are five tips to help you and your family get ready for the end of the school year:
Prepare for the upcoming changes
Big schedule changes or changes in typical routines can be extremely difficult for some children with autism. You can prepare your child now by describing what he (or she) can expect after the school year ends. Visual aids such as calendars, picture schedules, and social stories can help you explain these changes to your child in ways he can understand.

Find out what’s been working
Ask you child’s teacher what strategies worked best for him during the school year. Carrying over materials and effective teaching techniques from his current classroom to his summer routine is a good way to help him use the skills he learned in school in other settings (at home, in the community, and on vacation).

Facilitate communication between staff
Transitions from school to summer often mean a transition in staff members who will be working with your child. Making sure that your child’s current staff have a way to communicate with his new staff can help ease the transition. Keep in mind that if the staff change is occurring across organizations, they may require your written consent to share information.

Consider schedules and structure
Although it is tempting to allow more free time during summer break, down time can be problematic for children with autism. Consider what components of your child’s current school year routine you would be able and willing to carry over to the summertime routine. For example, if your child is independent with his morning wake up routine, encourage him to continue this. Using those materials and strategies you collected from his teacher can help with structure as well.

Plan for fun
Don’t forget summer is a time for fun. Come up with a list of activities you can do with the whole family. Whether it is planning some trips to your favorite ice cream spot, playing board games with your children, attending community events, or planning a vacation, make sure you schedule in some fun.

Brittany Juban, Ph.D., LABA, BCBA-D, is Clinical Director at the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in West Springfield, Mass., She can be contacted at

May Institute is a nonprofit organization that is a national leader in the field of applied behavior analysis, serving individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, brain injury and neurobehavioral disorders, and other special needs. Founded more than 65 years ago, we provide a wide range of exceptional educational and rehabilitative services across the lifespan. May Institute operates five schools for children and adolescents with ASD and other developmental disabilities, including one in West Springfield, Mass. For more information, call 800.778.7601 or visit