Thursday, July 14, 2016

Extended School Year and the Necessity of Routine

Party in my house this week! Praise the powers that be, extended school year started on Tuesday! The regular school year ended on June 20th, and the following 3 weeks were, to put it nicely, like walking barefoot on Legos. They were very painful, at times unbearable, and often reduced us to tears.

Not EVERY day was like that. There were quite a few peaceful moments when we could sit back and enjoy being home with the kids.We tried our best to keep order and were very fortunate to keep some semblance of a schedule by sending them to their Uncle Pat's house a couple of days while I worked. But if they didn't know exactly what was going to happen when they got home each day, more often than not their behaviors would emerge and the evening would spiral out of control.  The lack of routine, the absence of getting up in the morning, eating breakfast, getting ready for and then leaving for school took a great toll on all of us  Daddy Ceda and I were frequently frustrated, exhausted and irritable by bed time. Squabbling and meltdowns were frequent, especially toward the end of the three weeks. Due to the lack of the demands of the school schedule, their world had become unstable.   This is why routine is so very important in an autism home. Routine keeps us from falling apart. Routine keeps us calm and makes us feel safe and secure. We know what each day brings, so we can anticipate what we have to do to make it through. As I just explained, our world becomes a slippery slope without it.

Let's clear something up about extended school year. It is not free childcare, nor is it a day camp. The kids are on  IEP's and  are maintaining skills they've learned over the past academic year. The teachers and therapists develop a schedule for these kids to follow that include their services (speech, OT and PT) as well as basic skills such as math and language arts.  They aren't running around doing arts and crafts and singing kumbaya around a campfire while toasting s'mores. Fun is incorporated into the day, but they are there to keep learning and stay on course. The last thing you want is to see your kiddo regress and lose valuable skills that sometimes cannot be relearned.

ESY doesn't work for all spectrum kids. But for us it is a blessing. It keeps our kids right on track with their learning, deters regression, and most importantly brings back the routine!  I'm not anticipating fantastic reports home every day. That would be unrealistic. However, over the last two days both kiddos have gotten glowing home reports, so you know what? I'll take it. It means they are happy and they are back in their element of get up, eat breakfast, get ready and go to school. When they get home they are calm, collected and content. The evenings have been laid back and peaceful, and we really couldn't ask for much more. 

Peace and Love


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