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Is my child ready for kindergarten? A Parent’s Guide to Kindergarten Readiness for Children with Autism

The start of kindergarten can be both exhilarating and challenging, especially for parents with a child on the autism spectrum. You may be excited and probably a little anxious to have your child start their formal educational journey. You also may be wondering, “Is my child ready?”

Although it may be “time” for your child to start school, first and foremost, it is important to consider if they are prepared and well-equipped to be successful in a school setting. These considerations include not only academic readiness skills but social and play skills as well. 

While each child is unique, understanding key developmental milestones can help you assess whether or not your child is ready to start school. 

Important Skills for Your Child to Have Before Starting Kindergarten

There are many important skills that can help ensure more successful learning in a formal school environment for children with autism. Some of those skills for your child to have include: 

  • Recognizing their name in printed form
  • Recognizing and naming colors
  • Counting to 10
  • Writing some letters in their name
  • Answering and asking questions
  • Speaks in sentences
  • Responding to their name when called
  • Independently and comfortably asking for help
  • Easily separating from parents and caregivers
  • Completes dressing and undressing 
  • Using utensils and feeding themselves

You can click here for a more comprehensive list of skills important for children to master before starting kindergarten. 

Behaviors to Reduce Before Your Child Starts Kindergarten

For many children kindergarten may be their first time away from home and in a group setting. To help ensure your child can engage safely and has a positive experience in school, it is important to reduce certain behaviors such as:

  • Toileting accidents
  • Attempting to “elope” or leave play or work areas
  • Lack of responsiveness or refusals to complete safety instructions (e.g., “hold hands”, “stop”, “come here”, “wait”)
  • Lengthy tantrums
  • Aggression and disruptive behavior

ABA and Kindergarten Readiness for Children with Autism

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a highly effective evidence-based approach for helping children with autism develop the foundational skills needed for success in kindergarten and beyond. ABA can be tailored to meet the unique needs of a child, helping them gain the skills they need to thrive in kindergarten. 

Every child is unique and will progress at their own pace. It is important to support and meet your child where they are and help them work towards their skills and behavior goals so they will be well equipped and prepared to be successful in a school setting. Be sure to talk with your child’s BCBA regularly about your child’s goals, progress, and any concerns you may have. Your child’s BCBA is there to help guide you and your family through this journey. 

Click here to learn more about Opya’s ABA Program and how we can help your child prepare for kindergarten!