Saturday, September 2, 2017

Back to School Anxieties and Solutions

By now, almost all public schools have gotten the first day of fall classes out of the way. Many, like ours, have been in session for almost two weeks now. New routines can be hard for some people, especially autistics. I think it's safe to say that most people in general struggle with back to school time, because of the complete turnaround of scheduling, and daily tasks.

One thing that I've noticed is most kids in general have a certain level of anxiety, and apprehension the first few weeks of school, even "typical" kids. Everything is new. New teachers, new classroom, new schedules. Not to mention that many have transitioned into totally different environments, like from grade school to middle school, or even middle school to high school. They wonder if their friends will be in their classes, how their new teachers will be, and how this year is going to go for them. Some have to learn how to switch classes for the first time, or use a locker. (Those locks are anxiety producing for some of us!)

If your child has had a less than stellar experience so far, or their attitude has been not great, then it may be overwhelm caused by the new routine. Keep the lines of communication open between you, and them by asking them how they like school so far in specific ways. Ask what their favorite part of the day was, and what was their lest favorite, Ask who their locker is by, and how they feel about their teacher. If they're really seeming to have a hard time it might not be a bad idea to let their teacher(s) know. That way the teacher can keep an eye out for things your child might need assistance with, or even just throw some encouraging smiles, and conversation their way to reassure the child that they're a positive influence for them. Some kids are too shy to reach out first.

If you have a child whose needs are exceptional you may want to write an introductory letter to their teachers like this. It is helpful for the teacher(s) to get to know some of the basic needs your child has, and how to meet them, beyond the IEP.

I think one of the biggest things to remember is that nothing is permanent. If your child is struggling in school, and things don't seem to be working out after awhile there are other things you can do. There's other solutions that don't include just public education. Sometimes people need other things to meet their needs than a one size fits most situation. My oldest just graduated from online school. My second oldest is doing public school with an IEP, and my youngest is homeschooled in what I can most closely describe as being unschooled. There are options out there to fit many different needs, because many of us at different times have different needs. It's not just about grades, and report cards. It's also about gently shaping, and supporting an individual in a way that allows them to become the best person they can be. It's okay to explore other ideas that don't necessarily seem mainstream. I have always felt like raising mentally, and emotionally strong kids requires a wide, open minded approach. I feel like those are the kids that become resilient, and happy adults, because their needs were met when they were young, thus enabling them to tackle life with a strong emotional backbone.

How are your kids doing in school? How was your experiences in school growing up, and how would you (or wouldn't) have changed things to better suit your needs?


  1. Wow - can't believe your youngest is at home and you are sane and blogging??!!!

    My own experience as an undiagnosed autistic female was, um, really hard. I ended up (at length - was a runaway, tried public school several times...) at a crunchy quaker boarding school where being weird was celebrated and I thrived...But it was a long road.

    I cannot afford private schools for my kids and I work freelance full time so they need to be In School.Public school... It has been up and down for my son, who has an IEP and is on the spectrum. High school is still a work in progress as he hasn't yet developed the executive function needed to really do well in his classes, etc, though he has the intelligence and works hard. I seem to be "checking in" every week regarding their actually FOLLOWING his IEP...

    We moved when my son was going into sixth because he was being bullied and having a very rough time in that district - I'm happy to say it was the right decision for many reasons.

    My daughter is an ultra-survivor who dominates and succeeds wherever she goes.

    Thanks for the perspective on how things can change and improve,
    Full Spectrum Mama

    1. Hi Full Spectrum Mama. I'm sorry to hear that your son has had school issues, including the dreaded, terrible, bullying. I have had all the issues with my 15 yo that speak of. Thankfully, now that he is a sophomore things seem to be much better.

      I never thought that I could do homeschooling, either, but it turns out that it's a lot more accessible to many of us than we ever think.With online schools, and other internet programs it's not as hard as you think.

      Thanks for your comments. I always enjoy reading them.


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