Second Week of School

Autistic Boy playing with frame

Is Your Child Struggling This Week?

If you have breathed a sigh of relief over the weekend, only to be confronted with issues this week, read on. You may have been expecting difficulties last week, but found the first week back went more smoothly than you imagined. This weeks change may have come as a complete surprise.

An increase in difficulties during school week 2 is not uncommon, especially at the start of a new school year. There could be many reasons, but 3 of the more common ones are:

Tiredness

A busy week back in school last week may have left your little one feeling exhausted. First weeks can be completely exhausting for autistic children. As with non autistic children, the business of a school day and readjustment to getting up and out in the morning can leave your child feeling tired. 

Add to this the exhaustion of coping with a new environment, different teacher and overexcited peers, and you may have one very tired child. 

In many classes, the first week back focusses on getting to know the staff and staff getting to know the child. This will involve lots of social questions and activities – which will be completely draining for an autistic child. The week may have been less structured and noisier than usual, again causing stress and eventually tiredness.

If tiredness is the problem, things will settle down. Not always easy for those with sleep issues, but if possible try a few earlier nights or some quiet relaxation time before bed.

Misunderstanding of Time

Focussing on preparing your child for the first week back to school is a great way to help them cope with the upheaval of September. If your child has difficulty with the concept of time, or is extremely literal in the way they interpret language, they may have been some confusion. There is a possibility that they weren’t clear that they were going back to school for more than the ‘first week’ or just that the reality of the length of the school term has just kicked in.

It may help to provide a calendar, so that your child can cross of each weekday until the weekend. Conversely they can use the calendar to prepare for Mondays. More importantly, they can see the duration of the school half term and the number of weeks until the next holiday.

Pushing boundaries

It is natural for children to push boundaries, testing adult’s and other children’s limits. This behaviour most frequently occurs when there is a change in circumstances and people.
Last week may have been fraught with novelty and uncertainty, and as your child feels more comfortable they begin to test others.
It is important that you (and others) remain consistent and keep to your limits. This will help your child to learn your limits, the consequences of their actions and how you expect them to behave. For example, if your child is asking for a later bedtime stick to the regular bedtime. Any shift will only cause confusion for your child, especially if they are not asking in a nice way. Most of the boundary pushing will more than likely be happening in the school, and you may be receiving reports of this from your child’s teacher. It is important to have a joined up, consistent approach. Ask for a meeting with the school, to ensure everyone is responding to issues in the same way.

 

Don’t Panic

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, second week issues are common and will usually settle with time. Of course if you have tried the tips above and your child is still having issues in a few weeks time, you should ask for a second meeting with your school to try and resolve the issues.