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5 Tips for Preparing Autistic Children for Preschool

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Preparing your autistic child for preschool can be an exciting and challenging journey. With

the right strategies and support, you can help your child transition smoothly into this new

environment. Here are five simple tips to assist you in preparing your autistic child for


1. Create a Structured Routine:

  • Establish a consistent daily routine at home to help your child develop a sense of predictability and stability.

  • Use visual schedules or charts to outline daily activities, such as waking up, meal times, playtime, and bedtime.

  • Gradually introduce the preschool routine by mimicking it at home, including structured learning and playtime.

Example: Before preschool, create a visual schedule with pictures or symbols representing

various activities, such as circle time, art, outdoor play, and snack time. Practice following

this schedule at home, gradually increasing the duration of each activity to match the

preschool schedule.

2. Familiarize Your Child with the Preschool Environment:

  • Arrange visits to the preschool before the official start date. Familiarize your child with the layout, classrooms, playground, and other areas.

  • Meet the teachers and staff and introduce them to your child. Encourage positive interactions and establish a relationship of trust and comfort.

  • Explore sensory aspects of the preschool environment, such as different textures, sounds, and smells, to help your child adjust more easily.

Example: Schedule a few short visits to the preschool with your child. Start by exploring the

outside play area, then gradually move inside to visit the classrooms and meet the teachers.

Allow your child to bring a favorite toy or comfort item to ease any anxiety.

3. Socialize and Promote Peer Interaction:

  • Arrange playdates with other children, both neurotypical and autistic, to provide opportunities for social interaction and practice.

  • Encourage turn-taking, sharing, and basic social skills during these playdates.

  • Use social stories or visual prompts to help your child understand different social situations they may encounter at preschool.

Example: Set up playdates with classmates or children from the preschool. Practice taking

turns, sharing toys, and engaging in simple conversations. Use social stories with pictures or

short narratives to explain common social scenarios, such as asking for help or joining group


4. Communication Strategies:

  • Develop a communication plan with the preschool teachers to ensure effective communication between home and school.

  • Share information about your child's strengths, challenges, and specific communication needs.

  • Utilize visual aids, such as picture schedules, communication boards, or assistive technology, to support your child's communication skills.

Example: Meet with the preschool staff to discuss your child's communication needs.

Provide a list of preferred communication methods, such as sign language, picture

exchange, or verbal prompts. Share any visual aids or communication tools your child is

already using at home.

5. Encourage Independence and Self-Help Skills:

  • Teach your child age-appropriate self-help skills, such as dressing, toileting, and feeding themselves, to foster independence.

  • Practice these skills at home and gradually transfer the responsibility to your child.

  • Collaborate with the preschool staff to ensure a consistent approach to promoting independence and self-help skills.

Example: Encourage your child to participate in self-help activities, like putting on shoes or

socks independently. Gradually increase their involvement in dressing and other self-care

routines. Work together with the preschool teachers to reinforce these skills in the


By following these five tips, you can help your autistic child prepare for preschool and make

the transition smoother. Remember, every child is unique, so adapt these strategies to meet

your child's specific needs. With patience, understanding, and collaboration between home

and preschool, your child can have a positive and successful preschool experience.

By Child Psychologist

Ms. Azureen

Master of Child Psychology (M'sia)

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