Written by: Dani, Chief Mama Bird
Little Bird on her first day of school!
Many parents count down the days until school is back in session. For so many of us raising kids with disabilities, those school day hours are the only times of respite we get. If you’re like me, those hours are usually used up with laundry, dishes, and various chores around the home (not to mention the 7 month old I have now!).
Come mid-August, many parents are looking forward to those back to school shopping lists and that yellow school bus making its appearance. However, for those of us special needs parents, it can bring up a lot of anxieties.
As a kid I had those typical back to school jitters. There’s so much uncertainty with a new school year. Of course most of our kids crave structure and a reliable expectation of what those 6 or 7 hours of school will be like.
I’ve noticed my own daughter has been a bit more clingy and definitely a little “off” whenever I bring up the fact that school is starting soon. For me, it’s definitely a time of high anxiety. How will she behave on the bus? How will she act in class? Will she follow directions? Stay dry?
I rely so heavily on the communication notebook that travels between school and home. Each afternoon as my little girl steps off the bus, my first order of business is to look through the book to get a glimpse into her day.
Likewise, the teachers and support staff that work with her should be able to get information from home. Because I use Birdhouse to track so much about my daughter’s daily behaviors, I’m able to paint a very clear picture of where she “is” at any given time.
I track her sleep, so I can easily pull up and report the number of hours she slept the night before or the even past few nights. After all, that can be a very easy and logical explanation for a meltdown the following day at school, but if a teacher doesn’t know that, we can all spend hours guessing what could be the cause of such behavior.
By the way, for my girl, it’s poop. It’s always all about poop with her. That’s what I keep track of most diligently because that seems to have the biggest effect on her behavior. Birdhouse has helped me see that if she hasn’t pooped in more than three days, she tends to have urine accidents. So, if it’s been more than three days, I can now communicate to the school staff that she needs to be taken to the bathroom on a regular, consistent schedule to avoid accidents at school. Of course, changes in medications or doses will likely yield changes in mood, sleep, etc, and all that can be easily tracked in Birdhouse, too, then shared with school staff.
Just having a simple, easy way to get a better understanding of my daughter’s functioning and behavior, and knowing that it can all be so easily shared with her teachers and therapists automatically helps to alleviate some of those back to school nerves.
I’m a mom, so I’ll always be a bit nervous, and I’m an Autism mom, so I’ll really always be a bit nervous, but it’s pretty great to be able to have one less thing on my mind- and my list of anxieties!
Sending TONS of support and encouragement to all the moms and dads out there this week and next. Check in with us and let us know on our facebook page how things go.