Getting your sensory kid back to normal.
‘Back to normal’ seems so far away.
But what resources are in place to help you transition your kids back into school after Coronavirus has passed? Especially your child with a sensory disorder? There are things you can do to prepare.
Right now, most people who can work from home, are. Stores are mostly closed. Businesses have shut their doors. And schools have been canceled for – well, we don’t know for how long.
That’s a bit of a problem.
For parents, like us, who have children on the autism spectrum, it could be a real issue. Autism, anxiety and sensory overload are a combination problem,
ASD + SPD = Transition Trouble
Austism Specturm Disorder (ASD) + Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) = TT!
Getting our son into Kindergarten was extremely difficult in the first place.
He is on the Autism spectrum and has Sensory Processing Disorder. The daily resistance, sporadic meltdowns, watching him struggle to fit in. There was a time when we even thought about homeschooling him. But we worked hard, our support team worked hard, and he worked hard, to get on track.
Now just like that, all of that work, our schedule, timetable, the routine, HIS routine – lost.
This will be an issue we will need to consider when, or even before, we see schools re-open and life gets back to normal.
Part of our son’s sensory issue is transition. Especially new transitions. A new school, a first-time classroom, all the different faces. You can prepare your sensory child as much as you like, but you never truly know how it will all shake down when the time comes.
And boy was it shaky!
Isolation Frustration for kids as we wait for ‘back to normal’
After his first day of school, we all needed a break. It was a total failure.
We worked with the school, the teachers, the doctors, and formed a second plan. I took time from my job, as did my husband. We took shifts sitting outside the school so our son would see us during his breaks. He took noise-canceling headphones for in-classroom use. Eventually, he became more comfortable. The lure of the structure was winning! Less morning resistance, no nightmares, and crying, and even the meltdowns had stopped.
School changed him. He became a very attentive student, he made sweet friends and he even got his school picture taken. (Something he generally disliked.)
Although he is happy to be home right now (his safe space), he doesn’t understand why we are holed up here and not at the trampoline park, or somewhere fun. He wonders why he can’t see or play with his friends.
We wish he could.
Face to Facetime during Coronavirus
Already we are seeing the effects of a loss of his social interaction. Now the worry has crept in, how are we going to get him back on track when it’s time?
Recently, another kindergarten Mom had a great idea to set up a Facebook page for all the kindergarten parents and kids. It was nice to see our son interacting with friends again after a stretch of no contact. Keep in mind, our littles sometimes don’t even think to ask. Out of sight, out of mind.
The key is to not let that happen.
Suddenly, he’s interacting with his classmates, sending videos back and forth. Even his teacher is a part of the group and he has very much enjoyed seeing her messages. As a parent, it’s nice to see Teachers wanting to stay in touch until things get back to normal. It’s heartwarming.
For the foreseeable future, we will nurture these electronically connected friendships and hope we can keep him engaged with what it means to have friends and be at school.
“Home” Work for Everyone
Each day, we’re giving our son one school-related task. Just one. It could be a little bit of math, maybe reading a book or even a short spelling bee. (Complete with stickers!)
We were fortunate enough to talk to his Pediatrician by phone and we asked what we could do to help keep him engaged with school.
Here are a few tips:
- Stay on a daily schedule, especially with sleep because it’s so important.
- Create a social story with pictures (Click here for an easy to understand guide)
- Use websites provided by teachers (Careful with the screen time!)
- Meet with school officials and transition team before the first day back
- Visit the playground at his school and get reacquainted with the surroundings
- Practice school morning routine role playing
- Facetime, Zoom, Skype friends the week leading up to school
Even though we feel like our stride was broken, at least we know he can do it! We’ll just have to work extra hard to make sure he succeeds when things revert back to normal.
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Trish is a 28-year radio veteran turned Digital Marketer. She has an extensive background in all things media and enjoys writing, editing, and blogging. She lives happily with her partner, Tim and three children, Allison (23), Lauren (16), and Emerson (6).