It’s the first day of school for my son, who is entering Pre-K at his new big boy school. He woke me up this morning and asked if it was “morning time, yet?” After he learned it was o.k. to get up he eagerly yelled back, “good, because I don’t want to miss my bus!” (He’s been waiting to ride the bus with his big sister for several years, now.) By the time I got into his room he was halfway dressed in his plaid shorts and t-shirt, not exactly what I had in mind for his first day of school, given I had two outfits ready for him to choose from hanging on his closet door. It was hard for me, but I had to let it go. He was excited and feeling good about what he had chosen, and he had gotten dressed in record time.
It is important to give our children a sense of control or the ability to make choices (within our parameters). This is especially important for a child with sensory defensiveness as he so often feels out of control with the bombardment of incoming sensory stimuli. Throughout the day, and especially during challenging times for him (getting dressed, eating dinner, etc.), give him two options to choose from (both of which you’re o.k. with). If you’re trying to convince your child to brush his teeth, ask him, “should I sing the ABC song or count to 30 while you brush?” Often you’ll find he’ll respond, “count to 50!” and he’ll immediately begin brushing! It’s not what you had in mind, but it works!
Michelle Yoder, OTR/L
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
As I got my fourth grader off to her first day of school this morning, she said, “Mom, I have butterflies in my stomach.” I remember that feeling on the first day of school each year even through high school. Most kids will experience some sort of nervousness or anxiety as they transition back to school this fall. For some, this will result in a change in behavior, especially for our children with sensory integration difficulties. It may not surface right away, but look out, because you know it’s coming! Use these tools to ease the transition back into school:
- The night before: talk about tomorrow- this could be verbally or by use of a picture schedule
- In the morning: review the schedule for the day- some children need specifics including times, others will be o.k. with first school, then home
- This is the time to ramp up heavy work! Allow your child the opportunity to run and play outside, and encourage activities where they have to push objects, pull ropes, carry weighted materials.
- Some children may need a time to “chill out” before beginning homework. Give your child a structured period of time to relax: one game, one show, etc. Then, prior to beginning homework, have your child get moving (chair push ups, wheelbarrow walks, animal walks, carry a laundry basket upstairs, etc.) for about ten minutes.
- Provide Structure- this is hard for some of us, but try to have dinner at the same time, follow the same bedtime routine (bath, books, bed) and get them to bed at the same time
- And, as well all know…get plenty of sleep and eat right! This can be a challenge in itself for our sensory kids, so especially during this period, don’t make any changes to your child’s bedroom, sleeping habits, eating habits, etc. Save your new recipes for later and allow about a month to six weeks to pass before you begin any new vitamins or medication.
Michelle Yoder, OTR/L