Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Getting Ready for High School.

The school holidays have flown by so quickly. Checking my calendar today I've realised that there is only seven days until goes back to school, seven days until he starts secondary school.

This is a huge step for him and I've pondered this long and hard over the holidays (yeah, that hard I forgot it was happening next week!) because while high school is a huge adjustment for other kids, for ASD kids it's a tougher adjustment.

All wants to do is fit in and so we try our hardest to make this possible. At times it works, when people often remark to us (the extremely annoying although well-meaning) "Oh, he doesn't seem THAT autistic, does he?" and at times it doesn't, like at his breakdancing lessons where he tends to stick out like a sore thumb. So with the spirit of fitting in in mind, I've had to go and buy school shoes and a school jacket.

At his primary school they were incredibly strict with the uniform policy with the full set including blazer. Just as was arriving at the school, the even instituted a school jacket so outside of ordering the expensive wool blazer and Gore Tex jackets we really didn't have to worry about what he wore. When we approached the High School about uniform, I was taken aside by one of the administrative staff. In her experience with ASD kids she has noticed that the more high functioning kids want to fit in and so she filled me in on the realities of the high school uniform and the dress code. There is a full uniform, blazer and all but only a select crowd wear it (I'm being diplomatic here) in the junior section and only prefects, in the last two years. So she said not to bother with the full regalia and just to buy a tie and make sure he was in black and white. She also advised me to check out what the other boys were wearing as they took every opportunity to express their individuality through this.

So since then I have been stalking teenagers in the area to see what is popular and trendy and based my decisions on that mixed with A's choices. It's been a bloody expensive mission too.

Anyway, the real point of this post was to share a document that was emailed to me from a Scottish based charity Enquire on tackling a new school with a disabled child. I've tried to find this online to link to but haven't so I'm cutting and pasting here as I found it incredibly helpful and it is written with discussing it with your kids in mind.

Going to a new school?
An Enquire guide for young people

All the advice “in quotes” comes from young people.

How are you feeling?
Looking forward to a new start?
Not sure what to expect?
Sad about leaving your old school?
Worried about making new friends?
Scared of the older pupils?
You’re not alone! A lot of people have mixed feelings about going to a new school.

We hope this guide will help. If you’re worried, talk to your parents or carers or your teacher.

And remember – Enquire is here for you. You can call us for advice and info.

“I was bullied at primary school, so it was good to have a new start.”

What can I do to get ready?
Before you leave your old school:
b Visit the new school to see what it’s like.
b Find out when you can meet the teachers and pupils at the new school.
b Find out if you need to get any school uniform, books or stationery (things like pens, pencils and
a calculator).
b Try out the journey you will take to school.
Then you won’t feel so worried about how you
will get there on your first day.
b If you are disabled, the new school should make sure you can get to your classes safely and easily. Visit the school to see how well you can get around. If it’s difficult, tell someone.

“I went to visit the academy before I started.
It helped me get used to the school.”

Starting at secondary school? What will it be like?
Secondary schools are normally bigger than
primary schools.
You will have a different teacher and
a different room for each subject.

Keep your school timetable with you. Then you’ll know which classes you have each day.
“You’ll get used to your timetable - don’t worry.”

Each lesson will have its own set of books and homework.
Tell your teacher if you find it hard to keep up with the homework.

There may be extra help you can get.
“If you get tons of homework, you can ask for
more time.”

What if I get lost?

Don’t worry. Ask a teacher or pupil to help you find your class.
“The teachers will understand if you’re late because you couldn’t find class.”
Getting extra help at school
If you’ve been getting extra help, you should still get it at your new school if you need it.

Your new school should have been told what help you need.

Remember though, you know yourself better than anyone else does. If you need something or don’t feel you’re getting the right support, tell someone.

There are lots of reasons why you might need support. Here are a few examples:
b home life making it hard for you to do your work
b difficulties with reading or writing
b being bullied
b feeling depressed or worried
b not having the equipment and books you need.
For more info look at the Enquire guide
‘Need extra help at school?’ (Download it from or contact us for your
free copy.)

Have your say
Adults must listen to you when they help you plan your learning and support –it’s your right.

You can have your say at meetings with your teachers, parents or carers and other people who support you.

You may feel worried about the meeting.
Remember you can take someone along for support
if you want to.
“Know your rights!”

“Don’t be afraid to speak up”

For more info look at Enquire’s guide ‘Going to meetings’ (Download it from or contact us for your free copy.)

People who can help
If you’re worried about something, it’s important to tell someone. Don’t feel alone. There are lots of people you can talk to. Here are some examples:
b teachers or other people at school
b your parents or carers
b a social worker or health worker
b someone at the youth club you go to.

And don’t forget! If for any reason you are finding
it hard to learn, you can call or email Enquire for advice.

Also, check out our website for young people – there’s lots of helpful info on it.
“Tell someone you trust.”

For more info look at Enquire’s guide
‘People who can help you in and out of school’
(It’s on or you can contact us for your free copy.)

Don’t put up with bullying
You have the right to feel safe. No-one has the right to bully you.

Being bullied can mean things like people:
b pushing you
b calling you names
b making up stories about you
btaking your stuff or spoiling it
b hurting you or threatening you

If you get bullied by someone at school, don’t put up with it. Tell someone you trust. Ask them for help.

Remember you can talk to ChildLine about any problem at all. They will listen and help you work
out what you want to do. Call them for free on
0800 11 11 or visit to have
a 1-to-1 chat, send an email, and get advice.

Stuff to do in school
A lot of people worry about making friends when
they start at a new school. One thing that can help
is getting involved in clubs and activities at school.

What are you into? Sports? Music? Drama? Computer games? Ask your teachers about fun things you can
try out.

If you can’t find something you like, you might be able to start your own club. Talk to your teachers about this.

Another thing that can help is having a buddy – an older pupil at school who is there to help you settle in. Ask your teachers about this:

“Give it time. Find people who are into what you are into.”
“Buddying helped me make new friends. I got to hang out with people in my lunchbreaks, watch tv, play computer games.”

Stuff to do outside of school
If you are looking for things to do after school or at weekends, check out Your Area on Enquire’s website:
You can find out about youth clubs and services
near you.

“See if you can join a group or forum of young people who have the same interests or needs as you.”

Contact Enquire

Enquire can give you advice and info by phone,
by email, online and in guides.

Helpline: 0845 123 2303


  1. I've got an Aspie going up to high school next week to. He's quite cook about it but I'm beside myself with anxiety for him.

    Good luck to both of them. x

  2. Oh and good luck to you and I both too - I suspect we'll need it. x


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