All Articles in the Category ‘School’

Ask Dr. Emily – Going Back to School Support

Dr. Emily Neuhaus, the author of The Autism Blog's Ask Dr. Emily monthly series

Dr. Emily Neuhaus, the author of The Autism Blog’s Ask Dr. Emily monthly series, answers a reader’s question that we want to share with all our readers.

Welcome to the April edition of Ask Dr. Emily

Ask Dr. Emily is a monthly series on The Autism Blog where Dr. Emily Neuhaus, a clinical psychologist at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, answers a reader’s question.

We often receive questions that we want to share with all our readers. We welcome you to send us your questions and Dr. Neuhaus will do her best to answer them each month. Send your questions to [email protected].

This month, Dr. Emily answers a reader’s question about how to prepare kids to go back to school with tips and resources from Andrea Lupas, Ph.D.; and Lia Thibodaux, Ph.D.


My kids are going back to school in person soon after a long time of learning at home! What do we need to know to prepare them?


In a year full of changes, this is definitely another big transition for kids and their families! It’s great that you’re thinking ahead so you can ease that transition back to in-person education, especially since this shift can mean new health guidelines and procedures at school, a new schedule and sequence for the day, and lots of big feelings.

Fortunately, today we’re featuring guidance from two skilled psychologists – Dr. Andrea Lupas, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow, Seattle Children’s Autism Center); and Dr. Lia Thibodaux, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow, Neuropsychology Consultation Service). They’ve put together a wealth of strategies and resources to get kids and families back to school in the smoothest way possible.


How to Support Children Going Back to School during COVID-19

Andrea Lupas, PhD & Lia Thibodaux, PhD

More schools are beginning to move toward in-person learning. Some children may do well with the transition and others may need extra support. Below are suggestions for supporting your children as they go back to school. Click here to download a handout with these strategies plus sample guides to use at home.

Health and Safety  

Monitor your child’s health. If they are sick or have a fever over 100.4, do not send them to school. Temperature and symptom checks can be completed each day as a family to make these behaviors seem normal for children.


Before going back to school, teach children how to:

  • Distance from Others
    • Teach your child by using physical cues to show them what distance means.
    • Show them how to measure distance by stretching out their arms.
    • Hula hoops, jump ropes, or tape on the floor may also be helpful.
    • Teach kids how to wave and say “hi” instead of hugging.
    • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends keeping 3 feet apart in schools, instead of 6 feet. Washington schools are currently allowed to decide if they will distance 3 or 6 feet. It is important to ask your child’s school what they will do for distancing so that you can prepare your child.
  •  Distancing resources:




  • Wash Hands 
    • Handwashing should last 20 seconds. 
    • All parts of hands (under fingernails, thumbs, and the back sides of hands) need washing. 
    • Use songs to help children spend the full 20 seconds washing their hands. 
      • Example songs are the “happy birthday” song twice or the alphabet song. 


  • Practice distancing, masking, and handwashing at home before going to school. 
    • You can turn these into games to make them more fun! 
    • Building routines, rewards, and breaks into practice can help your child be successful. 
    • Visual timers or counting aloud/on your fingers are helpful tools to show children how long they should wash hands or wear a mask. 


Emotion and Behavior Support 

Going back to school can cause kids to feel happy, worried, or other emotions. It is important to:


Listen to Feelings

Build Routines 

  • Rebuilding school routines is helpful for going back to school. Work with your child’s teachers to make sure there is a routine at school, too.
  • Picture versions of routines or spoken instructions help children understand routines.
    • An example of a picture routine (visual schedule) is provided in the link at the end of this blog. Picture routines should be specific to children and their routines.
  • Practice these routines before the first day of school.
  • Tell children about any changes, do not surprise them! It can be helpful to discuss changes with teachers or other school staff.

Give Rewards 

  • Reward children for specific, good behaviors. Rewards can be praise, extra play time, or fun items. 
  • If children aren’t motivated to distance, mask, handwash, or go to school, caregivers and teachers can help build motivation with rewards.
  • Rewards can be temporary solutions until your child is used to new routines and rules.
  • For example, if your child does not like washing their hands, tell them they can have 5 minutes of game time for practicing handwashing. 

Provide Visuals

  • Visuals about distancing, where/how to wear masks, how to wash hands, routines, and rewards are helpful for understanding. 
  • Example of a visual reminder to wash hands, wear a mask, cover coughs and sneezes, and distance:
  • See “Sample Morning Routine Visual” below!
  • See “Sample Guide to Practice Wearing A Mask” below!

 Other Resources


To Summarize:

  • Distance
  • Wear Masks
  • Wash Hands
  • Listen to Feelings
  • Give Rewards
  • Build Routines
  • Provide Visuals

These are suggestions that work well for most children. If your child is significantly distressed, consider working with a therapist of counselor.

Handout Link: Tips for Supporting Your Child Going Back to School During COVID

Autism 208 – How to Access and Implement ABA Services in Schools

Join us for “Autism 208: How to Access and Implement ABA Services in Schools,” a virtual event providing background information about the current state of applied behavior analysis (ABA) practices in our school systems as well as an overview of what these services may look like. Read full post »

Free Webinar – Educational Advocacy During COVID-19

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on school programming and academic planning this year. We have heard from many families that school is their #1 stressor right now, during what is an already overwhelming time for society. Read full post »

Facebook Live Panel: School in the Time of COVID

Please join us for our continued Facebook Live panel series on Friday, May 1st, from 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM PDT hosted by Seattle Children’s and Seattle Children’s Autism Center. Read full post »

Facebook Live Panel- Coping with COVID-19 Video

Read full post »

Back to School Shopping: In(clusive) Brands Create Clothing for People with Sensory Sensitivities











With the changing of seasons, and the transition back to school, we are hoping to share several blogs that will provide resources during a time of year we know can be both exciting and overwhelming for your kids and family.

Read full post »

Back to School Medication Forms – Autism RNs Share What You Need to Know

RNs Kerri Morales and Jan Bersin

It’s almost back to school time and our RNs at Seattle Children’s Autism Center want to share information to ensure it’s a smooth and timely process for you.

Q: What type of medication forms do I need to give to my child’s school?

A: Seattle Children’s has implemented a new process for school medication forms. To help expedite this, please email [email protected] or call 206-987-7149 with your child’s name, date of birth, name of school, medication they need to take at school, and the time the medication needs to be taken. We no longer use forms provided by your school. The medication at school form will be electronically sent to the school with your child’s provider’s signature. This process can take up to 5 days.

Q: What do I do with Sports Physical or Camp Physical forms?

A: These are not filled out by our clinic, but should go to the primary care provider to verify your child’s physical health. We can have your child’s provider sign the portion regarding medications we prescribe if needed.

Q: How much time should I allow to refill a prescription?

A: Please allow 2-5 days for refills to be sent to your pharmacy, and it may take up to one week for paper prescriptions to arrive in the mail. Many ADHD stimulant prescriptions require a signed original paper prescription, so please request these at least 7 days in advance of when they are needed.

Q: Do I need an appointment to get my prescription filled?

A: Every patient needs regular follow up appointments with their provider to ensure that refills can be approved. Please make sure these are scheduled well in advance as our providers’ schedules get filled quickly. We do not have urgent appointment slots available.

What to Tell Your Summer Program Staff

As we turn toward the long summer months, many parents of children with autism are busy filling out summer program forms. If you are like me, you pause when you get to this section:

Does your child have any behavioral concerns?


Why do I pause at this question…?

First of all, I usually marvel at how little space is provided to answer such a complex question. My son’s Behavior Intervention Plan is nine pages long!

Second, the answer for my son is YES, he does have behavioral concerns. I’ll admit to being afraid to list his specific challenging behaviors for fear of being excluded from the camp. I’m tempted to simply write “some” with a little smiley face and leave it at that—-but this would be unfair to everyone— Read full post »

Autism and Race

Based on Kanner’s observations of the children he worked with, autism was once thought to be a disorder that disproportionately affected families of higher socioeconomic status (Kanner, 1943). He noted that the parents of the children he described in his seminal work were highly educated, upper middle class, and of European-American descent. Subsequent studies failed to corroborate Kanner’s belief. The likely reason for Kanner’s finding was a result of bias caused by a greater access to diagnostic and treatment options for families with financial means.

In the 70 years since Kanner’s report we now know that autism clearly affects children from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds yet disparity continues to exist in services. Nowhere is this more Read full post »


ForrestA Day in the Life at the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center

Today marks the first day of fall quarter classes at the Burnett Center and that ‘back-to-school’ buzz has been circulating throughout the center all morning.

As I walk down the hall, I greet new and returning participants – adults with autism and other developmental disabilities – here to learn something new and be amongst peers. Beloved instructors are returning and new ones are here too, eager to bring their expertise and fresh ideas to each classroom.

At the beginning of each music class, the instructor often asks each participant how they’re feeling that day.

Today, a common theme is happy. Read full post »