Special Needs Update: Reduce Back To School Anxiety
Special Needs Update! Reduce your child's back to school anxiety by preparing now. At Brain Balance, we believe every child can connect with success and reach his or her academic, social, and behavioral potential. Enjoy these tips and strategies to make the back to school transition as smooth as possible for your child with ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, and other neuro-behavioral and learning disorders.
Resume your child's regular sleep and wake schedule. For most kids, summer is a time to relax, stay up late, and sleep in, but this can make transitioning to a school schedule very difficult, particularly for those with special needs. At least two weeks before school begins, resume your child's regular sleep and wake schedule to ensure your child is well-rested and ready for the classroom. For kids with special needs, changes in routine can be very disruptive to their behavior and cause unnecessary anxiety. Getting your child back on schedule before the school year begins means you will have one less meltdown-inducing change to contend with during the back to school chaos.
Tweak your child's diet and eating schedule. Begin feeding school-aged children at a set time that will coincide with their school schedule, and provide lunches like those you will send with your child to school. While summer can be a time for lax eating rules, now is the time to get your child's digestive system used to the changes to come. For example, if during summer your child has become accustomed to eating breakfast at 8am and you suddenly want him or her to eat at 6:30am, you may be sending a hungry child to school. Adjust your child's eating schedule now to avoid hunger and digestive issues adding to the stress of going back to school.
Schedule silence. We've mentioned this strategy before, but it bears repeating as back to school season approaches. If your child is hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, particularly noise and touch, he or she may benefit from scheduled silent time. Wake your child 15 minutes earlier in the morning to enjoy a favorite activity before school. Whether it be reading, media time, or a game, make sure your child is quiet and undisturbed. Give him or her at least thirty minutes of quiet time after school to rest and reset before bombarding your child with commands or questions about the day. Before bed, allow another 30 minutes of quiet time to read or play. Swinging and rocking are beneficial for organizing the senses, so quiet time can include those activities as well. For children who display hyperactive behavior, jumping rope or swinging before school can also be beneficial.
Prepare your child for changes. All children can feel anxiety at the beginning of a new school year. For kids with special needs, back to school anxiety can be severe. Plan ahead and minimize your child's anxiety by introducing your child to his or her teacher ahead of time. If possible, request a 15 to 30 minute meeting the week before school begins. Take your child to meet his or her teacher and see the new classroom when it isn't noisy or crowded. If you can get a copy of the classroom schedule, write it on a small piece of paper your child can keep in his or her pocket at school. A wristwatch can be helpful for special needs kids who need to know how long they have between each activity, which makes for better transitions. Remember, for a child with a learning and/or behavioral disorder, the more information they have, the more secure they feel.
Prepare for your child's IEP meeting now. Preparing for your child's IEP meeting ahead of time will help you feel less stress as the back to school season gets underway. Gather papers and information now and make notes on what you want your child's school administrators to know. For more information on how to prepare for a successful IEP meeting, read our IEP Parent Tips!
If your child with learning and/or behavioral issues could benefit from increased confidence, decreased anxiety, better social skills, and academic improvement, consider the Brain Balance Program®.
To learn more about our whole-child approach, contact us online or find a center near you.