It’s that time of the year to get back to school.
It can be difficult for children with Tourette Syndrome (TS) and the comorbid conditions to handle transitions and changes in their daily life, and transitioning back to school can be particularly hard. It is important to starting planning ahead for the transition in order to ease the anxiety of getting back into school. Listed below are several strategies that can be helpful with that transition process:
- Ensure that your child’s IEP or 504 plan is in place
If possible, meet with the school’s administration or teachers to know your resources and ensure appropriate accommodations are in place. If you have not set up an IEP or 504 plan, get with your administration as soon as possible and follow up with the Tourette Association regarding accommodations for school. Don’t forget that the Tourette Association has a wonderful library source of information for planning for 504/IEP plans.
- Create routine in your schedule
Summers can be fun with free time and lots of play activities, however, in order to transition back to school, it is important to start establishing a routine with structured wake, eat, play and sleep times to prepare your child for returning to school. We know that sleep is a large difficulty for children with TS, so creating a good sleep schedule and good sleep hygiene habits before starting school will be helpful.
- Slowly start decreasing electronic use (if applicable)
Start to transition your child away from the full day option of playing or watching electronics. Starting this transition early will be helpful to prevent extreme difficulty at school time.
- Review stress management and social training in preparation for school
Meeting new children and teachers can be extremely difficult for children with TS. Fears of bullying can arise and worsening anxiety. It is important to review appropriate social skill behaviors with your children. Discuss events such as “what happens when you get angry”, “what can you do when you are stressed and your tics are frequent or interfering”. Use of social stories or role playing can be beneficial in these situations. If social skills are a large concern for you and your child, find your local pediatric Occupational or Speech Therapist who can help with creating appropriate social relationships.
- Start using a calendar or planner NOW
Organization and time management can be problematic for children with TS. This can lead to difficulty with remembering to complete homework, or when to study for a test. Slowly being to reintroduce the use of a calendar for the daily activities you are doing at home. Make it fun or make it a game to get your child interested and engaged.
Transitioning for back to school is important for children with TS, as well as you as the parent. With appropriate transition time and activities, the first several weeks of school can be more manageable and less stressful for both you and your child.