Getting Your Child Ready for Back to School

Its back to school time! By making several smaller, incremental adjustments to the family schedule, you’ll make the transition easier and smoother for everyone involved. Heading back to the classroom doesn’t have to be a stressful, rip-the-band-aid-off situation for either parents or their children. By adding structure into everyone’s routine and making changes slowly and gradually, you can decrease stress and prepare everyone for a successful school year.  Here are some simple solutions that can help you move into the new school year smoothly.

Tackle Hair Cuts and Other Grooming Tasks Well in Advance

It is recommended that you plan ahead, especially if it takes more than one day to get the job done. You may want to do a local Google search for hair salons that cater to children with special needs. Some salons have stylists trained to accommodate the needs of children with sensory challenges. For example, haircuts can be done while sitting in a parent’s lap, or watching a movie on a tablet. Some salons also offer “quiet” appointments before or after normal business hours. Here is an example of one such salon, which has a location in Montclair, NJ.

Nail care is another challenging task for many families.  Using a nail file or nail scissor will take longer, but may be better tolerated.  As described in a blog written by an adult with autism, the pressure on the nail when a nail clipper was used, and the anticipation of the aversive sound that the clipper made, always made it an unbearable event for her.  Once her parent began using nail scissors, she was much happier.

Limit Changes to Your Child’s Wardrobe

Back to school shopping is an ordeal for any family, and this can be doubly true for many kids with special needs.  You may find it easier to write down their sizes and shop without them.  While shopping, keep in mind fabric textures, colors, sleeve and pant lengths, tag removal, and other details that can trigger sensory issues with your children. It may be helpful to shop online and show pictures of the clothing to your child. And don’t worry about forcing the issue if old clothing is in good repair and still fits—a happier child in older clothing is a better choice. Another helpful tip is to launder any new clothing at least once before being worn to remove the unfamiliar smell and soften it.