It feels like the summer holidays have barely begun, and here we are with a week left until the dreaded (or joyous, depending on who you ask) back to school routine starts again for another school year. 8 weeks have passed in the blink of an eye.
This can be a time of mixed emotions for children. I always remember the last week of the holidays being a big buzz of excitement. The week before school was usually spent getting new uniforms, and choosing new stationary. We have already done all of that gradually over the last few weeks. Now that the final count down is on, I’m wanting to keep things as calm as possible.
The summer holidays haven’t been plain sailing for us. Neil has ASD, and struggles with change. He hates school, I mean really hates it, but to attend school every week and then suddenly have that routine taken away is hard for him. For the first few weeks of the summer holidays he was a bit unsettled. He had maybe a week or two where he was happy and contented, and then there was a turning point mid way through the holidays when anxiety about the coming term starts to set in.
This last week in particular his anxiety levels have reached a new high, and it’s so hard to watch. I want to give him a big hug and tell him everything will be alright, but I can’t because he doesn’t much like hugs.
He is very teary at the moment, the smallest thing can set him off and he will cry wildly for hours. He often doesn’t even know why he is crying, and will not tell you if something is on his mind. Despite being very vocal and having a wide vocabulary, he really struggles to express how he is feeling. We’ve had tears because he wants to play, but doesn’t want to play. Last week we had tears because he wanted to go out, then when we got ready to go out, he cried because he had changed his mind.
The anxiety is manifesting in other ways too. He is stimming a lot more. A stim, for those that don’t know, is a self stimulating behaviour that can help calm a child with ASD, such as rocking or spinning or humming. He always stims, but it becomes more notable during times of stress.
He is really struggling with sleep at the moment too. Neil is never a great sleeper, but in the last week or so he has, on more nights than not, still been awake well past 1am. He keeps asking questions, like ‘how many minutes until morning?’ I think he has ended up in our bed every night, often deciding around midnight that he is too scare to stay in his room any longer. Again, this will probably continue , and get worse as we move through the first few weeks of school.
I can’t help but worry for him. I keep thinking about last year, and how hard it was for him returning to school after the summer break. I can’t stress enough how much he dislikes school. He has started to realise that he is different from the other children, saying things like ‘they know how to stay in their seat and I don’t’. I do worry that he is going to struggle this year, as the classroom assistant that was in the class during first and second year will no longer be there. This year, it’s just going to be his teacher with no helping staff, and I think the teacher will struggle to give him the time he needs, but that’s a story for a whole different blog post.
It’s hard feeling so helpless at times like this, I wish I could take his anxiety away, to make it easier for him, but I just don’t know how.
Time will only tell how the first few weeks of school go, hopefully with some careful planning and routine we get get through the transition period without too much upset, fingers crossed.
How are your children feeling about the impending back to school?