Back to School, Back to Routine

The last two weeks of school, parents count down the days till summer break with fervor!  Then come the final two weeks of summer break and they are excitedly counting the days before school begins again!  That’s me in a nutshell.  Yes, I intentionally used the word “nut” shell because my sons are driving me nuts right about now. Arguing, nitpicking, whining, and just plain bored. (My sons that is.)

I pity the teachers that have to corral the kids back into routines. But routine is what my son with autism needs, craves and thrives on. This is the first time since he started school that he is echoing his big brother’s sentiments about “I don’t want school to start!”. How neuro-typical of him. (smile)

Just this past June, he was sad that school was ending and that he will miss learning and his friends. Yes, he actually said that! But it only took him eight (LONG) weeks with his big brother to start picking up his habits, sayings and general silly nonsense.

I long for and dread the bedtime curfews, homework routine, and schedule we will get back on. As most of you with kids on the spectrum understand, our kiddos need structure and a schedule. They feel anxious and uncertain without it. I’d be lost without my schedule listed all neat and orderly on my iPhone. So how are our kids any different?

My son with autism used to NEED to know what was going to happen every day. Now, he’s much less anxious and more curious and aware in wanting to understand what’s expected of him each day. Biomedical treatments and behavior therapy has helped him with this tremendously. In school he learned how to read a calendar, and the concept of first, next, then and last, which was tremendously helpful for him.

Routine is good. Better yet, routine with a curve-ball throw at him sometimes is better. It’s helping him adapt to our world and not stay so rigid in his. I let him choose where he wants to be picked up after school (valet or walk to front) so he has not only a sense of control in his life but also to work with him on remembering where he is to go. If he decides, he remembers every time.

He begins second grade this year and I can’t believe how fast he is growing and catching up in development. He has a wonderful team at the school and the best teachers that make it possible for him to be mainstreamed without an aide in the classroom. He’s your typical seven-year-old boy. Laughs at YouTube videos, plays with friends, fights with his brother and thinks expressing himself is burping and farting. How blessed we are.

He’s not quite back into the routine of school yet. It’s only his second day. Given time, patience and gentle reminders he’ll be just fine. My dog on the other hand, is despondent and bored now that the house is quiet again. He’ll eventually get use to the back to school routine too.


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