Coping With Back To School and a Little Back To School Giveaway

The unstructured time of the holiday brings its own set of challenges for children with Autism, and their families, so many will be looking forward to getting back to normal term-time routine! Some children will be dreading going back but even for those desperate to get back to school like my son, it is a big adjustment after 6 weeks chilling at home. There are the unavoidable anxieties associated with a new teacher, new classroom and new routines for the year group they are going into. Every teacher has slightly different ways of doing things and these small changes can take a lot of mental energy for an autistic child to process and understand. New is hard work. My son once described how hard dealing with new experiences is for him:

If it’s new things I have to delete whole sections from the organisation in my brain and start all over again and re-make them but in a different way. And it takes 100 energy for even one half percent of that and it makes me want to sleep for a million years. 

For more insight into Understanding the Sensory Challenges Around New Experiences check out this post.

So how can you help ease this transition back into school?

  • Get well rested

Everything is harder to cope with when you are tired so if you have relaxed bedtimes over the holidays, start gradually returning this to normal bedtimes and wake up times over the last week of the holiday.

  • Test out their uniform
  • Check their uniform all fits comfortably and wash new items a few times to soften them. Get them to practice putting it on so it feels more familiar, especially if they are going to a new school. If they find particular fasteners tricky, spend some time practicing these with them while you have time to do this in a relaxed way. If they have new shoes, make sure they have worn them in a bit as new shoes are a sensory challenge in themselves and take some getting used to.
    • Practice organising belongings

    Lay out the things your child is going to need to pack in their bag and practice putting things in and out. If they need a prompt of what to put in their bag at home time, write them a list (this can be a picture list for younger children or non-readers) and pop this in their bag for them to refer to.

    • Emphasise the things that are staying the same

    Anxious children may focus on all the things that will be different in the new school year. Keep reminding them about all the things that will be the same, whether that is the same friends in their class, same uniform, same school bag, same playground, same lunch box, etc. If they have favourite subjects, remind them that they will still do these in their new classroom. Consider whether buying them new shoes, bags, etc is something that they really need at this point (if they aren’t broken or outgrown). For some children the ones from last year will be comforting.

    • Pack some sensory supports

    The extra stress of processing all the different routines, expectations and sensory input over the first few weeks of term means even children who normally cope well in school may need more support than usual. The boy will be taking his pressure vest to school for the first few weeks of term at least so he has it if he needs it. He also packs ear plugs, a squishy stress ball and a chewy bangle on his school bag, in addition to the sensory box he has at school. Having them in his bag means he can access them when he feels he needs them and is reassuring in itself.

    • Plan in plenty of chill out time

    All the additional energy required to process all this newness, means home life needs to be kept as relaxed as possible to give your child time to recover and re-group. Try to keep after school and weekend plans to a minimum in the first couple of weeks so they can just chill out and get plenty of rest.

      Keep channels of communication open
  • Having lots of little regular chats with your child about how they are feeling, what things they are looking forward to, what they are worried about is really important. Make sure they know they can talk to you about the things that worry them. Remind them about strategies they can use to help them when they feel worried, frustrated etc and practice these together. A worry monster or Worry Box can be really useful in helping to unpack worries and externalise them. If you haven’t already had a brief chat with your child’s teacher it is worth doing this in the first week, or popping a note or email to them. If your child has specific worries, pass these onto their teacher so they are aware.
    • Pick Out a Back To School Treat
  • Choose something together that they will love to take with them when they go back to school. A keyring of their favourite character to clip to their bag, stationery or a new water bottle in a favourite design are all good options.
  • Check out this previous post for more tips on back to school organisation and encouraging independence.
  • If you need a little stationery update for school or for homework, enter my little giveaway using the gleam widget below and you could win this stationery set:

    Back to School Stationery Set Giveaway

    Terms and Conditions

    CLOSING DATE: Sat 14th Sept 2019, 10pm

    The prize draw is open to UK residents aged 18 and over. One entry per person. Entrants using multiple accounts will be disqualified.

    There will be one winner, receiving a stationery set (as pictured). The prize is as stated and no alternatives can be offered.

    To enter entrants must leave a comment, of at least 6 words, on the blog post and complete the Gleam widget, confirming that they have done so. Additional entries are available for following me on Twitter and visiting my Instagram.

    The winner will be selected at random from all entries correctly submitted via the Gleam widget, before the closing date.

    Winners will be informed by email or Twitter direct message, and must respond within 28 days to claim their prize. Prizes will be dispatched within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address details.

    The winner’s name and/or Twitter handle will be announced publicly. By entering you consent to these details being displayed on the gleam widget on the original post and in associated winner announcements on social media. Please don’t enter if you aren’t happy to be announced as the winner.

    72 thoughts on “Coping With Back To School and a Little Back To School Giveaway”

    1. Uniform. As Autumn / Winter :- A good quality anorak with a good fitting hood. Warm hat. Warm gloves. Wellington boots. Boots with a good gripping sole ( so as to reduce the Risk of Falls. Health and Safety. Accident Protection. Child Safety, Parental Responsibility, etc).

      Pencil case with pens, pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener. School bag :- Try to take into account :- Child, as do not want to overload the child’s body / joints / muscles. Consider transport :- As child may be becoming more independent. Possibly scooter, bicycle.

      Discuss with school staff :- Are there walk to school clubs? Snack box :- For small portions of fruit and vegetables. A reuseable water bottle. P.E. ( Physical Education) kit. The Essentials for School is vast. So start early by putting away things like stationery :- Perhaps when there is a Sale on. As all this equipment will add up to quite a price / cost.

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    2. I pack PE kit before I start any school shopping for the “main” bits. I don’t really know why, but PE kit was always left the very last minute (a night before or on the day). It was then that we would discover that PE shoes are way too small or that something is missing or not rich. So, sorting PE kit first, then the rest of the school bits.

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    3. my tip is to get sorted early as soon as things come out in the shop at the start of summer so you know they wont sell out plus then you are free to enjoy the holidays knowing its all sorted

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