[caption id="attachment_1864" align="alignleft" width="300"] A Time of Change[/caption] Some people say change is good. I disagree. When you’re a parent of a child with Asperger’s, you are not a fan of change! In our family change is the breeding ground for anxiety, disaster, and meltdowns. When we make the transition from summer to fall, there’s a lot to take into consideration. After four years of homeschooling, I have learned a few things that have helped make the transition a little easier for our family and I hope they help you, too! 1. No surprises. Make sure that your child is well aware of the calendar and start dates. As detail oriented as my son is, he seems to have no concept of what day of the week it is! Every day seems to sneak up on him somehow. Begin posting a calendar a few weeks prior to the start of school. Begin filling the dates with important information. Be sure not to fill it all in at once. That can be very overwhelming for your child. The goal is to make sure that your child is comfortable with those first few weeks of change. What can he expect each day? He needs the comfort of knowing what’s coming next. If your child is older, help them create a planner of their own. My son will be 14 this month. This is still a challenge for him, but we sit down each night and go over what he can expect the next day. Less surprises=less anxiety! 2. Taper your start date. Going from summer vacation to a full schedule can be tough. We taper our subjects and work our way up to a full schedule over the course of 4 weeks. During the first week, I begin the core subjects, and then each week I add on the extras. This seems to be much less overwhelming for both of us! 3. Take sensory breaks. 5-15 minutes to regroup, make a transition, and restart the next subject makes a world of difference in your day. Don’t be afraid to take 5 minutes! Even if the breaks add an hour to the day, so be it. I’d rather the day be effective and long rather than short and a waste of time. In addition to frequent breaks throughout the day, my son has the right to request a sensory break whenever he needs it. If he’s feeling anxious, upset, or uncertain, he will not be able to learn. I’d rather him get the break he needs and come back refreshed. This is also an excellent tool in teaching your child to recognize their triggers and manage their own stress. 4. Create Calm Sprinkle sensory aids throughout the house. When your child takes that 15 minute break, make a point to use these tools. At our house we have 3 fish tanks. Why? Because my son likes them! Period. Aquariums are an awesome sensory tool! We also use lava lamps, plasma balls, and Buckey Balls to give his senses a break. Keep lights dim and use a muted colored paper instead of bright white. What are your child's triggers? What steps can you take to eliminate them? 5. Stick to a schedule Create a master schedule for your day. Yes, life will get in the way. Especially, if you are a homeschool family! But, having a set schedule helps keep things organized, and it gives your child a sense of security and direction. Just knowing what to expect next will give your child a sense of certainty, and help his day get off to a great start! Adrienne is a homeschooling mother of two and blogger at www.themommymess.com, where she writes about the mess of motherhood, marriage, and all things mom! Her writing is always honest, sometimes sarcastic, and never perfect! You can also find her as @TheMommyMess on twitter and connect with her on Facebook. She's currently living her happily-ever-after with her smokin' husband and two handsome men near the east coast in sunny Florida.
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