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It's that time. We're all getting the kiddos ready to head back to school or maybe your little one is headed to school for the first time. This can be a stressful, exciting and scary time. Here's a few tips to help you in the process.

Does your little one struggle with new places and changes in routine? Take a drive by the school and if your able to get on to playground or in the school take a walk around or play outside for a minute. Take a picture of your kiddo in front of the school. Talk about going to school each day and show your kiddo the pictures of him/her at the school. This will help your kiddo start to recognize the school and understand they will be going there. You can call the school ahead of time and see if you could do a walk through with your little one. Many schools have open houses before the first day or to go visit the classroom but sometimes that may be too overwhelming with the big crowd for some children. Teachers are getting their classes ready the week before and other staff are in the school so you can likely pop in at a different time, or once before the big open house.

Pictures can help. Is your little one use to using pictures to follow a schedule or routine. Take a few and get a schedule for the school year ready. Consider how many pictures are in their schedules that they already use and if you don't use around 4 or 5 is plenty. You want it to be simple and easy to understand. Try a picture of your little one eating breakfast, standing at the car with their back pack on, picture of them in front of the school, picture of the classroom and then a picture of who ever will pick them up outside of their car or a picture of mom or dad with their little one back at the house. Using more simple cues like just showing them the picture of themselves outside the school or a school bus before it picks them up is also a great tool.

School's out for the what? Almost all kids will have transition period after school starts. For some kids they will really struggle when just coming home from their school day. It's like they use all their energy to "hold it together" in school and when they get in the car or back home it's "meltdown" time. They may have lot of extra energy and just seem to be running circles or every small thing may cause a meltdown. You're not alone and although not every kiddo goes through this for kids with sensory processing difficulties this is very typical. Here are some strategies to try. If you already have some go to sensory activities that are calming for your little one then use those. If not here are a few things to try. Who's heard of "heavy work" and "deep pressure". These are two types of activities that give our bodies proprioceptive input. Yep proprioceptive, don't let that word intimidate you it simply means sensory input to our muscles and joints. Think jumping, bear hugs...

Proprioceptive input is typically calming and organizing to our bodies.

So what are some other proprioceptive input activities? I like to call it the "Big P". If you're kiddo rides the bus home that bumpy bus ride gives them some of that great Big P. Try giving some tight hugs or squeezes before getting in the car. If you little one isn't much for hugs, stand behind them pick them up and jump them a few feet to/or around the car. You want their feet to hit the floor with each jump, this will give all our joints from our toes to hips some great Big P. Your hands around their body will give them some Big P there too. Most kids like a snack when they get home or even in the car. Try a drink with a very narrow straw, curly straw, or resistive water bottle valve (like what's on Camel Backs) so they really have to work to get their drink. That's Big P to all the muscles in our face and neck. At home pick a really crunchy or chewy snack also something with lots of flavor like spicy/hot/sour. You can have some yogurt using a big straw (like you get from McDonald's). Of course make sure your child doesn't have any difficulty eating that type/texture of food. See if you can get them to do some silly animal walks to get their snack and move to the table. Remember you can always jump them or give them some big hugs again.

Good luck, transitions are hard for us grown-ups to. Have a great school year.


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