The long summer holidays can cause a lot of distress for autistic children.
Eliza, my daughter, used to really struggle with the holidays. She’d pretty mush beg me to give her work to do so she felt she had a little of her routine in the holidays.
Nowadays she’s much more relaxed in having summer off, it’s the end of summer she now struggles with.
That change to routine with a huge six hour chunk of the day at School suddenly missing can take weeks to get used to.
Then as they get used to it, it’s time to start planning for the return to school and this can be equally tricky.
Some people just don’t understand why it’s hard and you’re met with the “she’ll be fine” and “she’s just a bit nervous, all kids are”.
Yet it’s not like that and a lot of people have no idea how much planning and preparation some of our children need.
Anxiety plays a huge part.
So many things to think about - a new class maybe, or new staff and even though they’ve most likely done transition days prior to breaking up for summer, it’s still new and still a change and new staff means getting to know each other.
The new classroom might be brighter, less windows, more doors, different colored walls, different floors…… an endless list of things that can make such a difference to how settled and comfortable each child is.
We are so lucky that Eliza’s school always do amazing transition time, she knows most of the staff anyway and she’s always sent home with pictures of the staff and classroom so she can look at them over summer.
Perhaps you’re given a new transport team and they plan to drive a completely different way to the last team and your child is now collected first rather than last and there are new kids to collect on route.
Again, another endless list of things to consider.
Sounds trivial maybe but these can cause a serious meltdown if you’re not able to prepare your child for the change because to them, it’s huge.
Also, it means another set of new faces and another getting to know each other scenario.
When I call the transport team numerous times to get the information on times, routes, driver and escort info, it’s not me being difficult.
It’s me trying to prepare Eliza as much as possible for who will take her to school and back, which route etc.
It’s also for me to have peace of mind as I trust them to look after her, understand her and keep her safe on her journeys (Again, we’ve been lucky the last 3 years and had some amazing teams. But we still await news of this years transport).
New uniform – my daughter can’t stand the feel and smell of brand new clothing and it needs washing before she’ll wear it so it smells like her other clothes and it feels softer.
Labels need tearing out as they feel like sharp edges on her very sensitive skin.
She prefers clothing that she can do independently – skirts rather than dresses, jumpers rather than cardigans as it cuts out the buttons that her poor fine motor skills find hard.
This year, for the first time ever, she’s been very specific about her uniform. She’s ten and this is to be her last year in primary and she’s growing up.
These are just a few examples of what can make returning to school difficult and distressing for some autistic children.
Planning and preparation are key to a smoother transition back to school.
To be able to support and help our children as best possible, we need information. Sometimes others must think we sound like overprotective parents when we call numerous times just to find a certain piece of info we need.
Honestly, we don’t mean to be a pain if we constantly ask. We are not overreacting.
We’re trying to prepare our children for something that seems so simple to many, returning to school.
We’re trying to combat the crippling anxiety that often comes with huge routine changes.
We’re trying to help school/transport have the smooth transition we are all aiming for, and this takes time and information.
Most of all, we’re supporting our children and doing whatever we can to make their return to school as calm and settled as possible. Happy and relaxed children = happier and relaxed parents, teachers, drivers…