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Back to School with Autism and Disabilities: A Q&A with AuSM

As students across the state return to school, Accra asked our partners at the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) to provide helpful tips and resources to parents and caregivers who have school-aged children with autism or other developmental disabilities.

We sat down with AuSM’s Community Engagement Manager Zephyr James to learn more about how parents can set their children up for success in the new school year.

What are some of the obstacles that children with autism or other developmental disabilities may face as they return to school?

While each individual is different and faces unique challenges, there are a few common difficulties that many individuals with autism face in going back to school.

Two of the concerns we hear most often are changes in routine and the difficulty of interacting with unfamiliar people.

How can you help your child adjust to wearing a mask in the classroom?

The CDC has provided various interactive stories related to COVID on their website, including one focused on wearing a mask.

Helpful visuals such as these can be useful when communicating the importance of mask-wearing to your child.

You can also have your child practice wearing a mask in other environments and requesting a break from wearing one.

What are some ways to implement a successful morning and nighttime routine on school days?

During the school week, it can be helpful to create a visual schedule that lays out the routine for morning and evening hours.

Often, the most successful routines incorporate meaningful choices for the child, as well as a preferred activity.

How can you help your child successfully work on their homework?

Designate a specific space in your home for completing homework that minimizes distractions and accommodates sensory needs.

It is also important to incorporate homework time into their consistent daily routine so that there are no surprises when that time comes each day.

Are there any additional resources that parents can use to ease the back-to-school process?

Some helpful online resources that guide parents through the back-to-school period include:

For additional autism resources, please visit