Back-to-School QUICK TIPS for Kids with Special Needs by Judy Winter / All Rights Reserved.

We know we shouldn’t judge others based solely on outward appearances and physical beauty. But in today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, looks do matter—especially as kids try to claim a coveted place in those unnerving and rigid school social hierarchies.

For students with special needs who are at greater risk for teasing and bullying, that’s a tough reality. The social challenges facing these students as they try to fit in with their typically developing peers makes the annual back-to-school preparation rite especially important.

Here are five simple back-to-school tips for parents to help their children with special needs get off to a great school-year start—allowing them to navigate the often unnerving school hallways with a tad bit more confidence.

• Get your child a good haircut in a current style.

• Go back-to-school shopping with your child and allow him/her to select a cool backpack, necessary school supplies, and clothing.

• Outfit your child with stylish, up-to-date clothing, including a sharp new first-day-of-school outfit. If your budget is strained, shop discount stores, sales racks, second-hand shops and garage sales in upscale neighborhoods. Make preparing for the school year FUN for everyone involved.

• Pay close attention to your child’s personal grooming every day—that includes clean hair, clean body and clean clothes. It does matter.

• To help reduce stress and alleviate those first-day jitters, visit your child’s school before the school year begins and allow him/her to meet the teacher, principal and bus driver. Talk about what to expect on the first day of school in advance, especially with younger children.

As with other families, the choices made by parents of kids with special needs are key to determining that child’s educational and life success. Celebrate your child’s abilities everyday—and have a great school year!