May 26, 2012

Just Keep Swimming...Just Keep Swimming...

Our school year is quickly coming to a close. Depending on where you are in the country (or the world!) you may still have a few weeks left. I recently had to remind myself to just keep swimming after being slammed with piles of additional paperwork and folder audits. On top of that, the inevitable end-of-the-year upheaval is causing stress and some regression in students. My students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional Disturbance, and other issues struggle mightily through all of the unexpected changes.... classrooms are being packed up, schedules are altered, everyone is excited, and so many "special" events that require flexibility and heavy doses of social skills are happening. The kids and I have been having many discussions about handling the changes. Many of them have adopted our skill of asking their teacher in the morning, "Are there any changes today?" This has been a great help and eased many worries.

If your students start exhibiting behaviors that have been resolved for quite a while during this transition time, please take a deep breath. Yes, it is frustrating. I feel it, too. But regression during a big transition is very common. If your students have shown solid growth behaviorally and it seems like things are sliding backwards a bit give it some time before you start with a new intervention. Continue being consistent with your expectation and current plan. This will give your child the predictability they need during this time of transition. Keep emotions as neutral as possible so that the regression is not compounded by an emotionally charged response. Usually, the regression will stop and the skill will be restored after a short period of time. 

This weekend, I've asked parents to help their child with an activity that will help with the mixed feelings that can accompany the summer vacation transition. I asked them to help their child fill out this calendar for the first week out of school identifying their plans for each day. The plan does not have to be detailed. Just identify where they will be (home or traveling?), who they will be with, and a main activity they can count on.  It can be as simple as Thursday is Legos, Friday is a trip to the pool, Saturday is video games at home. I asked them to have their child post their calendar on the fridge or in their rooms. Doing this simple activity can help tremendously with decreasing anxiety and helping your students end their school year on a good note.

Now, I'm off to just keep swimming!  ~Kelley

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