Tomorrow when you drop your child off at school, dressed in their something spotty for BBC Children in Need, there may be a child in line, in their school uniform. Naturally we think about the parents. How they have forgotten or sadly, in some cases, just do not care.
I hold my hand up as being one of those parents. Hopefully not the one who doesn’t care, but the one who has forgotten. I will even give myself credit for getting my children suited and booted, to find out it is actually an inset day, and just a month ago I sent my daughter to nursery dressed head to toe in a Halloween outfit – one week early for the celebrations.
And the forgetfulness does not just stop with me…
Last week, my eldest said to his father, as they were leaving for school, “I haven’t had any breakfast!” to which my husband responded, “I haven’t forgotten, we are going to eat and walk!” then grabbed a hot cross bun and some crackers while trying to hide his feeling of embaressment.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t even made a dent in my confessions. From the quantity of emails with instructions of cub badge completion, to spelling tests and odd sock days, I frankly don’t know how we manage to pull it off. As parents we must be assumed to have nothing else to do but coordinate kids activities and school requirements.
I would like to personally thank Amazon Prime for its two hour delivery service, as it is a large contributer to our family sucessfully meeting the needs of school email criteria!
Also on top of all this, I have a job and a life too. Not that I am any more organised in those!
But the point is that sometimes it looks like I have messed up, but actually I have also done some things in a certain way on purpose. I sent my son to school in his uniform on dress down day. It was not because I had forgotten, I knew perfectly well it was happening, but I ignored it! Also I didn’t do it because I was lazy or didn’t care for my son’s needs. I actually did it because I was in tune with my son’s needs.
Rhys is autistic, which means many things, but fundamentally means he likes structure. We also have to communicate in different ways to the standard family down the road, because verbal language is difficult for him.
School uniform means school, so wearing his trousers and polo shirt means that he knows it is a school day and not a weekend. It triggers the mental note of what is going to happen that day. It avoids confusion, a meltdown and any anxiety that is introduced through even a small change (such as different clothes).
But here is the point.
Rhys doesn’t care being in school in his uniform, while his peers are all dressed differently. But I think one day he will care. Also children ask questions, so when he stood out in his uniform, I felt he stood out even more than usual. A situation I wanted to tackle and find a way around. Which I did, and have done so for the past year.
So to all those parents in the same situation, dreading tomorrow’s dress down for Children in Need, give this a try.
Tomorrow, I will dress Rhys in his dress down clothes – his new spotty t-shirt! Then I will put his school t-shirt over the top of his clothes – I have his brother in on the act, who will do the same. This forms a visual representation of the day for Rhys, that it is a school day, and the mental association of a school day routine.
After breakfast, as we get our coats on, I will take Rhys’ school t-shirt off (so will his brother) in a quick t-shirt / coat switch over technique, and we will then leave the house. The mornings activities and structure will follow in the normality of a school day.
This method has worked wonders for us, and the best part is that Rhys will be just like all the other children arriving at school, in his dress down!
Let me know if you try it tomorrow.
Let me know if it works.