My 7-year-old son, Norrin, has autism and is in a 12 month school program. This Friday is his last day of school and his summer vacation will finally begin. No teachers. No therapists. No routine. Yeah…this time of year is especially stressful but he deserves the break. And I’m grateful his break is only four weeks as opposed to everyone else’s eight.
Then it’s BACK-TO-SCHOOL! I’m sorry. Do I sound excited? I can’t lie. I am. Norrin’s vacation hasn’t even started and I’m already gearing up for his first day back.
Back-to-school is one of my favorite times of year. Something about the fall and new beginnings. The air is crisp, the leaves start to crunch underneath our feet. I love the smell of sharpened pencils, new crayons and the feel of new sneakers. And getting back into a routine doesn’t hurt either.
I don’t go crazy with back-to-school shopping. Norrin doesn’t really need much this year. But there are some things that we cannot start a school year without. So I put together a list of 7 back-to-school essentials for my kid. And I think they’ll be helpful for your kids too!
7 Back-to-School Must Haves for Kids with Autism 1 of 8
The 1st day of school will be here before you know it! Click through to see my 7 essential items for kids with autism...from tops to bottoms and everything in between.
Easy To Wear Pants 2 of 8
Norrin still has trouble buttoning his pants and zipping zippers. I like the idea of him being as independent as possible during the school day especially when going to the bathroom. And for Norrin - independence means elastic waist pants. There are no buttons, no zippers to fiddle with, he can easily pull them up and down.
Also, many kids with autism have related services during the day - occupational, speech, physical therapies. It's important they are comfortable.
I love cotton pants for boys and leggings for girls. They're comfy, easy to move around in, manageable to put on and stylish.
Available for Boys at Old Navy, $24.94
Available for Girls at Old Navy, $5.00
Tagless Tops 3 of 8
Norrin spends his most of his days in cotton, tagless t-shirts. They are easy for him to put on by himself and there's no tag to irritate and/or distract him.
Many kids with autism have sensory related issues and can extremely particular about clothing. I love these tagless cotton blend options from Old Navy. Your boys will look cool and your girls will look super cute! (I especially love the dress with leggings.)
Available for Boys at Old Navy, $12.94
Available for Girls at Old Navy, $19.94
These Shoes Are Made for Running 4 of 8
One of my favorite back-to-school items to purchase is shoes! (Who am I kidding, I always love to buy shoes I don't care who or what they are for.) And shoes are the one item I do not skimp on. All kids are hard on their shoes and they need a good pair that will last them a while. Kids with autism usually have a hard time with laces. Norrin can't tie is shoes and when he wears shoes with laces they are constantly coming undone. I love these velcro options!
Available for Boys at J.Crew, $40.00
Available for Girls at L.L.Bean, $36.95
Everything Needs a Label 5 of 8
Many schools require a change of clothes. I usually write in Norrin's name in his clothes but it washes off and it's hard to see. And if I want to donate it, I hate having his name written on what I give away. These labels make it so easy. I don't have to iron or sew. Just write and stick on. This is what I'll be doing this year! If your child is sensitive like mine is - place the label on the bottom hem of the shirt.
Available at Staples $5.99 (24/pack)
A Means to Communicate 6 of 8
It doesn't look like much, but this little notebook will be absolutely essential for you and your child. Norrin isn't the kind of kid who can really tell me about his day and I rely on his teacher to fill in the blanks and to keep me up to date on his progress, suggestions or concerns.
Available at Walmart, $3.87
An Introduction Letter 7 of 8
Is your child starting a new school or going into a new classroom? If so, you should send an introduction letter to your child's new teacher on the first day. I find that it helps especially if your child is non-verbal and/or has limited language. If you're not sure of what to write, check out what I included in my letter to Norrin's kindergarten teacher.
A Personalized Book Bag 8 of 8
And finally...the book bag. I like a bag that can be monogrammed and/or personalized. It makes it easier for the child, teacher, therapists and the school bus matron to identify. I also like a roomy bag with thick straps and an extra clasp around the waist or chest. Norrin's book bag needs to be big enough to hold his notebook, school work, a change of clothes and snacks. This bag from L.L.Bean comes in a variety of colors and is perfect for boys and girls.
Available at L.L.Bean $39.95
What items are essential for your kids first day of school?
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.