When we usually think about back-to-school transitions for children with autism, ADHD, anxiety or similar challenges, we think a lot about structure, predictability, consistency and routines. These help to ease stress and help students be successful.
Well, this year is different.
At CLEAR, we often recommend our clients connect with the school and teacher in advance, participate in summer programs, meet a classmate or two when possible, and do a school and classroom tour before school starts. For children who have a 504 or IEP, we recommend a meeting in advance or at the very start of school to make sure everyone is on the same page and to facilitate good communication between parents and a child’s school team.
With shifting schedules and staff, moving from virtual to hybrid to in-person learning, consistency is not as easy to establish.
Three Ideas for Holding it Together
- Have a lot of grace for the teachers and districts here. We are all in uncharted waters.
It is frustrating, but it is scary and hard for everyone. If you are like me, when you start to pull your hair out, realize you need a break, sit your child in front of a movie and read a funny book, watch a ridiculous TV show, and turn off the news for a few minutes. When you are in a calm headspace, do number two.
- Expect your teachers and school, whatever model you are in, to be understanding of your child’s unique needs.
If your child needs breaks, needs a shorter day, or extensions/ abbreviations to assignments, ASK for these. Your child still has unique needs. This advocacy still matters.
Even as things change in this confusing COVID schooling world, try to connect with teachers working with your child and tell them what he or she needs. If you don’t know, ask for a meeting with your school psychologist, 504 coordinator, or reach out to an organization like CLEAR to help you figure out your child’s needs and advocate for those. Try to be patient and collaborative and if you are in an impossible situation reach out to district special education or 504 directors to involve them in getting your child’s needs met.
- In your own home, try to set up some structure, consistency and routines for when you eat, bedtime and wake time, family time and exercise or other activities.
Give yourself a break, and order take out when you need to. Try to build some predictability into your home life while the school life is ever changing. Have your child work with you as you create schedules, fun activities and expectations for the day. Remember that your child is also likely to be overwhelmed and stressed. Keep demands low and pick your battles. Listen to your child and sympathize with what they are going through. Help them feel heard.
This link provides schedules, charts and other ideas for setting up that structure in your home if you are the one facilitating home schooling or to provide structure to other parts of the day if your child is in school.
At the end of each day, give yourself credit for something you did really well and let the other things go. And most of all, remember that if you are doing all you can, well, that’s all you can do. Hang in there!
We’re here to help!
Contact us to schedule a FREE 2o-minute discovery session to get more back-to-school support.