Welcome Back To School Trellis


-Submitted By Allison Barnes, Trellis Lead Instructor

The new school year is underway and the Trellis staff is so excited to see our leaner’s smiling faces once again. Jumping back into a routine after vacation is hard for any child, and can be especially difficult for a child with autism. Adjusting back to school after a summer break can feel frustrating and overwhelming for anyone. Fortunately, our learners have remained motivated to learn and are happy to be back.

Exciting changes have happened inside Trellis, making it more fun than ever to be back at school. Our NET space has been revamped with newer and more functional toys, allowing our learners to increase manding and pretend-play more appropriately and functionally.

“I love the new NET space. My learners need to use more communication to get what they want and it’s exciting to see them more motivated by functional play.” -Allison Killion, Early Intervention Instructor.

Additions to the NET include a play grill set, pretend laundry station, a brand new Dora The Explorer kitchen, improved train sets, and many more new toys. New items keep our learners MO high and promote functional play with peers. The staff is just as excited as the learners for these new additions and the opportunities they bring to teach new skills.

Inside the classroom, learners are adjusting enthusiastically to new curriculum and working hard with their teachers and instructors.

“We’re integrating the Baltimore County curriculum to incorporate ELA components of the Common Core. It’s exciting that I’ll be teaching the same concepts and using some of the same materials that a typical peer uses in public school,” explains preschool teacher Jessica Volz.

Guided by the Baltimore County curriculum, our learners get the opportunity to learn and interact with peers in groups of 3-4, in addition to our usual 1:1 instructor-to-child ratio.

Setting up the stage for success in social engagement is Julia Miller-Iarossi. Julia worked in the Love 2 Learn program from 2010-2014, and has recently rejoined the Trellis team as Social Skills Specialist this school year. We are so excited to have her back!

“I’m looking forward to meeting all the new students and getting to know them. I am excited to make our learners motivated by peer interaction, and to make social interaction as meaningful as possible so that they are still motivated in their homes and communities.”

Social groups at Trellis incorporate sensory strategies, gross motor movement, and academic skills to motivate each learner and fit their individual needs. Interactive peer play is essential to our students’ progress and independence, both in school and in the community. Our learners have happily jumped back into their social groups, focusing on skills such as greetings, sharing with friends, asking questions, high-fives, and other appropriate attention skills.

We’re off to a great start of the new school year. Our learners have had a successful transition back and we can’t wait to see the progress to follow. We hope everyone had a fantastic break, and that everyone is just excited for the fall as we are!

Back To School

Getting ready for the new school year can be a hectic and exciting time. For children with autism (and their parents), all this change can feel overwhelming.

Here are some suggestions for how to help ease your child’s back-to-school anxieties:

Get a sneak peak
Scope out the school and classroom in advance. If your child is going into a new classroom, visit it at least once before the first day of school. If transition has been a struggle in the past, consider taking as much time as your child needs to explore the classroom. Make it as much fun as possible, playing in each of the new areas.

Check out seat assignments
For older children, ask the teacher if a seat assignment has been made. Do some enjoyable activities in that seat. If familiar classmates will be in the room, show where they will be sitting, too.

Rehearse new activities
Find out from the teacher what new activities are planned. Then, prepare your child by performing, practicing, and talking about them. This rehearsal will reduce anxiety when the new activities come up in the first week of school.

Anticipate sensory overload
The noise and chaos of a typical classroom can sometimes be a bit much to handle. Establish a plan for what to do in this situation – perhaps there is a quiet room where your child can “take a break” for a short time. The Trellis School has several quiet rooms for learners to “take a break” and instructors are able to provide the positive supports that may be needed.

Volunteer in the classroom
Most teachers welcome assistance from parents. Your presence may be a source of comfort to your child during those challenging first weeks. The Trellis School needs volunteers to assist with creating experiential learning environments for our learners. If you are interested in participating or donating supplies please send an email to info@trellisservices.com.

Establish regular communication with your child’s teacher

Create a daily communication plan that works best for you and your child’s teacher. This plan will assist with smooth transitions from the classroom to home.

Going to school can pose many challenges for children with autism, as well as countless opportunities for building crucial social, language, and academic skills. Be positive and encouraging, and your child will be off to a great year!

Summertime Fun

Summer is well under way and along with the joy of a lighter schedule comes the challenge of navigating so many unscheduled, unpredictable, and unexpected elements of the season.

Here are some helpful tips for planning your family’s summer activities that we hope will help create more fun and reduce the stress:

Maintain Some Structure
Try to maintain your child’s typical eating and sleeping schedule as much as possible. It’s not easy to stick to a schedule during summer, especially as this is a time when you want to let go a bit and relax. If you can maintain the basic structure of your child’s routine, you are less likely to have an overwhelmed child and the disruptive behavior that results.

Theme Park Programs
Visiting theme parks is a summertime family favorite, but it also can bring a host of challenges for any child on the spectrum. Many parks offer Ride Accessibility Programs or Fast Pass programs for individuals with disabilities. If this is not an option for your family, there are other strategies such as planning your route ahead of time, splitting up (one parent goes with one child to an attraction while the other parent goes with another child to a different one), and bringing noise cancelling headphones to give your child a sensory break, etc.

Prepare in Advance
Travel requires specific preparation for children on the spectrum. It is important to familiarize your child ahead of time with the destination using photographs, videos etc. If your child has never flown or stayed in a hotel before, practicing these on a small scale (a one-hour flight first and a one-night stay at a local hotel are a really good idea).

Travel Safety
It is really important to understand a lot about where you will be staying during your vacation and the level of security of those locations. For example, if you are renting an apartment or home, it is critical that you check that each door has a lock and that the perimeter of the house is secure. Check whether your child can exit the location unassisted and be aware of what you need to do to secure the premises.

It Takes a Village
While vacationing, introduce your family.  Families who share with those around them, (especially in unfamiliar places like vacation destinations) about their child’s special needs tend to experience a more accommodating and supportive community. Helping others understand how they can help, can make your experience more relaxed and enjoyable.

Get Support From Your Team
Remember to use what works for your child while planning your family’s activities.  If you are working with an ABA provider, ask for assistance with goals that support a specific outing or trip.

Here are some additional resources to help make your season great for the whole family: