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The First Day of School and Prepping with Confidence

by C. Finkbeiner | August 13th, 2015 | Special Needs, Tweens

black board (400x400)The first day of school is approaching, and for some special needs kids, it can be a very difficult time. Children typically get nervous to leave home for the whole day without their parents, this is normal. However for a child with a special needs, not having mom or dad around can really affect their confidence that they are going to be safe and cared for should something go wrong. Although these anxieties are conditional, they do exist and cannot be brushed off with a pat on the back and a “you’ll be fine”.

Kindergarten and Pre-school is especially emotional for everyone because this is the ‘first time ever’, but it can also be emotional for tweens and teens. It’s a milestone celebrated with a special breakfast, taking pictures at the bus stop and trying not to cry as you wave goodbye, and waiting for the end of the day to hear all about how wonderful it was.

Elementary aged special needs children, especially those with (separation) anxiety, often feel this way every year on the first day of school, and for a few consecutive days thereafter until they are comfortable with the routine and process of going to school daily.

There are many things you can do to help ease the stress to your child, and encourage good days.

Allow your child to take something small from home to keep with them at all time in their pocket or backpack. This will help them feel grounded and remind them that it won’t be long before they will be home. Let your child choose the item (within reason).

If your child has allergies, make sure you send a list of allergies and emergency information with your child to keep with him at all times, in addition to any forms you may have already given to the teacher, nutritionist or nurse. All it takes is for one kid to offer another kid a part of their lunch to trigger a food allergy by accident. Teach your child about the dangers of taking food from others, and knowing what causes them to become sick and how to avoid those things. Pack their lunches everyday if you can.

Give them an idea of what to expect. Let them know their schedule of when they will wake up, when they will be home, etc. Do a dress rehearsal the day before following through with dressing, the breakfast, pictures and walking to the bus stop. Then you know you will be ready for the big day.

If your school offers an orientation or open house day to explore the school prior to class time, take advantage and tour the school with your child. Show them where the bathrooms are, and give them the freedom to become familiar with the school. They may even make some friends during the tour and will look for them. The buddy system is always a good thing for (special needs) kids.

Finally, trust your child’s instincts. If they don’t want to do something, determine why and work from there to success.

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