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!

Picture of child in the snow making a snow angel

7 Tips for Snow Day Fun

While no one can argue with the fun of traditional activities such as building snowmen or snow angels; keeping your kiddo occupied throughout an entire snow day while confined to your house might require a few more tricks up your sleeve.

Consider the unique opportunities the snow can provide for you and your kiddo to explore different language concepts, social skills, academic tasks, and leisure activities. Think about bringing what winter has to offer indoors where it is warm for a unique way to learn and play together.

Just to get you started, grab a few safe bowls (think plastic Tupperware), some pots, a muffin tin, and a few spoons of different sizes. Fill one bowl with cold water, and another with hot water. Throw a big beach towel out on the floor and grab up some of that white, powdery stuff!

  1. Let your child explore, figure out what he likes about the activity, and add to what he finds fun. If he is watching you and waiting for what you are going to do next, you’ve got it right!
  2. In the beginning, don’t demand, just show him some fun ideas you might have of how to play with the snow and “kitchen junk” and talk about what is happening, “Wow you smashed the snow!” “Did you see it melt in the hot water?” “You got more snow!” “Stir, stir, stir, good job stirring!”
  3. Language Concepts: Once you’ve gotten the activity going, use the snow to start talking about fun, related language concepts like hot/cold, wet/dry, melting/frozen.
  4. Social Skills: Take turns with the spoons, stirring, and playing. Encourage and model commenting about the activity and what you or your child enjoy. “Watch it melt!”, “Wow that is cold!”, “I like playing in the snow!”.
  5. Academic Tasks: Discuss weather, precipitation, seasons, and states of matter (solid, liquid, gas). Use your muffin tin and practice counting as you fill each cup.
  6. Leisure Skills: Feel free to step away from the activity and let your child dig in on his own. Sustaining a play activity and incorporating newly learned play skills modeled by an adult plays a crucial role in learning.
  7. Be sure to set boundaries about where the snow must stay. We suggest prompting all snow activity back to the area of the beach towel.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy this new experience!