What a year it’s been. Just as we had adapted somewhat to the ‘at home’ routine, schools are back open and it’s all change again for you and your child(ren). It’s also different from the regular back to school with all the additional safety routines in place! Your special needs child is being challenged once more as – no doubt – are you. Routines that may have taken weeks or months to establish in lockdown need to be adapted once more, and that too will take time. The most important things to remember:
* Be kind to yourself.
* Don’t expect miracles
* Expect some more challenging behavior for a while.
* Control what you can control and try not to worry about the rest.
* Reach out for help if you need it.
Get back on schedule gradually
Depending on your child, start to build up to the new routine over a few days to make the transition smoother. Break things down as much as possible and plan ahead so small steps can be taken. For example, bring forward wake up time or bedtime by fifteen minutes a day over a few days (if possible) until the right times are reached.
Building a visual schedule using PECS can be helpful. Using custom pictures on a board, you can create a schedule that you and your child can work with. Break down the tasks that make up the ‘getting out the door’ process and reward with simple and achievable incentives. As always – try to reward positive behaviors and as much as possible ignore less desirable responses.
We say this a lot because it’s true. Changes are hard for everyone, and there has been an incredible demand on all of us to keep adapting this year. You will undoubtedly encounter more challenging behaviors from the person you are providing care for. Try and pick your battles. If you managed to get everyone up and dressed more or less on time, but breakfast isn’t working out, maybe pack some extra snacks and warn the teacher at school that your child may need to eat earlier than normal or might be extra cranky.
Try and keep bedtimes and wake up times as regular as possible but remember it’s normal for your child to be more cranky and tired than normal. They may need extra naps or perversely go the other way and be even worse at sleeping than normal if they’re overtired from being back in school. Work with what you’ve got as much as possible. If your child responds well to gamification of tasks, then within your own time constraints try some fun ways of achieving goals such as cleaning teeth or getting dressed. And if it isn’t working out today, it’s not the end of the world if teeth don’t get brushed or they don’t take a shower.
Remember to take care of you
Give yourself a break. Take twenty minutes out when you can and remember Supportal is here to help. We have thousands of care providers able to provide as little as a few hours support a week, to give you that time you need to regroup and have some time out