Fall brings change. For some Fall is an admired time of year as we slip out of Summer weather and kids go back to a more structured life! For others it brings mounting stress and worry about their child’s potential success or failure in new learning environments. Has enough been done, is my child ready, what happens if they fail, will they make friends, will they keep friends, will they have any regression, how do I help them through this change, how do I prevent negative outcomes for my child? While at Aspire it is also a season of change; welcoming new families and scheduling changes to meet the changing needs of our kids and families. It is of great importance to us that we are supporting parents and children through this season of change. Transitioning into school is the big change that we work hard at preparing our children to make.
Here are some suggestions and considerations to get through this season of change with your transitioning child:
Build and Maintain a Support Team! Change can be hard. SO HARD! I think often times I see these transitions being harder for our parents than our children. I know the reasons why and mostly it is because parents have an amazing weight on their shoulders advocating for an extraordinary child and being their voice. While there are some fantastic school teams out there, this doesn’t alleviate the stress of the “what ifs,” memories of the hard times, or the uphill battle your child fought to get to where they are in development. It is often helpful to know that your Aspire Team is right there with you for the bumps in the road, to make adjustments and to help support you and your child through these changes. Having an outside clinical team to support the success of the transition can help lead to positive outcomes. It can also be helpful to have family and/or friends to encourage you, to give you breaks along the way, or to attend important moments for your child with you.
Take Breaks: Think of yourself like your car. You can’t drive on empty, you must refuel and sometimes you need an oil change! If you don’t refuel you run out of gas. Likewise if you don’t take care of your car (aka, you!) then your car declines and starts to overheat or have other malfunctions and issues. How do you do this? This is usually a personal preference but I encourage you to rely on friends or family to be with your child for periods of time without you so that you can take that run, go on a long walk, go shopping, go to dinner with your partner or a close friend, read a book, time to do whatever gives you most peace and makes you feel refreshed.
Plan Time with Your Child: It is important for you as a parent and for your child to continue to connect in meaningful ways amidst all the change. I know, I know…how do you make this happen? Planning ahead can help, but this doesn’t have to be going out. This can be 30 minutes at the end of the night playing, reading books, things that you know your child and you enjoy doing together. Maybe even get in some extra snuggles; who knows maybe you’ll fall asleep with your child and get some extra rest! I recently heard from a parent that they did this and had the best rest in a long time!
Prioritize Goals: Consider what is most important and focus on your top priorities when advocating for your child. Advocating involves compromising and being strategic about what is most important even though all things are desired. For example, you want your child to have more robust communication, fine motor, math and reading goals. You also want them to spend a higher percentage of time with typically developing peers in least restrictive environments, more time in smaller groups and a 1:1 support. As you consider and weigh out the value you determine which of these is most important for you to advocate for your child and you consult with the team to determine how to make those possible. You are the parent, you are your child’s biggest advocate, you can steer the course of this path for your child.
Be a Team Player: I know I just told you to steer the course and you may be thinking how do I accomplish both of these things? Start with acknowledging common interests. Special educators and therapists don’t generally pursue their fields of study and work for the great pay involved or all the recognition. They often go into these fields due to personal experiences (such as a family member with a learning disability) and because they truly care about making a positive impact in the lives of those with different challenges. Share your concern and ask for team members related opinions, remember the people on these teams specialize in different areas and have a lot to contribute to how to best help your child reach learning goals. How amazing is it that you have other people that want to see your child succeed. It is true you won’t see eye to eye on everything, but understanding the commonality that brings everyone together helps us to appreciate different perspectives and insight.
Appreciate and Accept the Course: Expect that there may be a regression at some point and that because your child is an individual there will be adjustments needed. Keep this mindset but also appreciate that this is part of the process of how your child’s plan will be perfected and custom tailored to them.
You may be working through these changes and adjustments currently with your child or you may be preparing for your child’s BIG transition to school in the future. If you are a current Aspire family thinking ahead talk to your BCBA about this. If you are in the Kansas City area wondering how you can get your child with Autism into our program with this focus, reach out and call us: KS: 913-802-2227 / MO: 816-533-5057 or email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org