How to Make School More Fun (& educational) for Your Kids on (or off) the Autism Spectrum

We work very hard with our kids at home, how can we help at school?

Here we are again, fall and the first day back at school. We made a quick end of summer trip to Hawaii. Maci loves everything about Hawaii: the sun, water, sand, relaxing slowed-down days. The environment there really helps her in every way – and my husband and I enjoy it too!

While we were there, I was thinking and researching my next topic to write about this month. A wonderful article from another mom jumped out at me and I felt it was an excellent idea and resource to share with you. 

The mom and author of the article, whose daughter has Cerebral Palsy, created a Teachers Resource Guide (TRC) to help her daughters’ teachers and therapists at school know how to work with her daughter. As we all know, the start of the school year can create anxiety for all kids, but especially for those on the Autism Spectrum. Part of the challenge for kids, parents and teachers when transitioning back to school is collaborating on the best and most effective ways to work with our kids. A child’s behavior is a big part of this.

As I was reading this article on the TRC, I was watching Maci loving her environment in Hawaii. She was happy, joyful, relaxed and in such a good emotional place. This is what I hope for her at school too. And, it is exactly what the TRG is designed to do, provide a guide and tool for teachers and therapists to know about how to best create a productive and “safe” learning environment for Maci.


Making everyone comfortable with change

A few years ago, we transitioned Maci from our local public school to a private school. It was a very big transition for all of us – our family and the teachers at the school, but especially for Maci. To ease Maci’s transition, I created a notebook for her and another one for her new teacher. The notebook for Maci was like a story and book about her new school. (You’ll recall I put together a similar type book when we travel.) I included pictures of the school, her teacher and the teacher’s aide. I gave illustrations and descriptions of everything about her new school experience. For her teacher, I created a document I called “Strategies for Working with Maci.” 

The strategies I included for the teacher were Maci’s behaviors, likes, dislikes, her general characteristics and things that act as triggers for Maci. This helped to prepare anyone working with Maci to understand and be proactive in how to best create and maintain a positive and stress-free educational environment. After the first 3 months of Maci’s transition to her new school, we had a group meeting to discuss how everyone was feeling about the transition. The feedback from the teacher and school was so positive. They were overjoyed in the results, so much so, they wanted to create similar strategies and program for all the kids in Maci’s classroom – even those not on the Autism Spectrum. 

How is creating your own TRC or strategies beneficial? It creates a baseline for:

  • understanding a child’s pace and timing
  • presuming competency
  • helping with behaviors
  • knowing what the behavior is communicating
  • understanding triggers
  • collaboration with parents
  • achieving successful outcomes

Our kids spend so much time in the classroom and making their hours there a positive and welcoming experience is beneficial to their ability to absorb what they are learning.

I hope this article provides you another tool or resource to help make life a little easier, happier and give peace of mind. 

We strive to give compassion!  MAP it!


Marikay Cuthill is mother of Maci, a vibrant, curious 13-year-old on the Autism Spectrum, and the founder of Maci And Pebble, a community dedicated to helping people navigate autism by finding answers, direction and peace of mind. Learn more at www.maciandpebble.com


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