Opposite Ends of the Spectrum, Commonalities Regardless—Tied Together by Transition

Posted by VFES Communications at 9/8/2015 7:55:00 AM

It’s compelling to consider the beginning of the school year and the end of the school year. On one hand, they truly are undeniably different in a number of regards.

The beginning of the school year holds a wealth of possibilities.

How can we grow? What can we learn? Where is our path going to lead us? How many hiccups will we navigate along the way?

Are my teachers going to be nice?

Am I going to make any new friends?

On the other side, the end of the year is filled with reflection—opportunities to consider one’s successes and accomplishments as well as the curve balls thrown along the way.

And in all the ways they are different, they are also the same in a number of respects.
For in both, there is a eagerness, an energy that cannot be matched. One that makes your body tingle and keeps you alert to take it all in. Smiles undeniably abound just as much on the first day as the last day. And every day in the books is a win in and of itself; for there cannot possibly be a day that goes by where one learns nothing. On the cusp of starting something new, a requisite transition period is full of a lot of gains—no matter how bumpy it is along the way.

Perhaps the greatest struggles lie in the fear of the unknown and discomfort in trying something new. How can we ease transition and use it to our advantage?

  • Practice a day with school or a day without school. Use a visual schedule to help your son or daughter know what to expect and at what time. Go through the motions of getting ready or filling a lot of perceived down time.
  • Break the transition down into smaller steps. Offer incentives for accomplishing each; e.g., tokens which can add up and be cashed in for a larger payoff, from a toy to an outing to the movies.
  • As difficult as it may be, stay as positive as possible and avoid saying no. Sometimes being negative feeds into an aggravated cycle. Praise your son or daughter for what he or she is doing/has done nicely.
  • Employ a favorite toy or electronic device. Keep it on hand and use it as an impetus for completing a difficult next step in the day.
  • Make time seem more tangible. If your son or daughter knows how long five minutes will be by experiencing it and tracking it on a clock, time-driven blocks of time become more relatable. “You know how quickly that clip from Frozen went? That’s just five minutes. You can do it.”
  • Create a Social Story to help your son or daughter make better use of his or her communication skills when moving from something comfortable to something unfamiliar. Here are some resources: http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/strategies-and-approaches/social-stories-and-comic-strips/how-to-write.aspx and http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2013/02/11/12-computer-programs-websites-and-apps-for-making-social-stories/.

Exploring all the ways in which something novel can be fun and how to harness the energy solicited by the first day of school or the last day of school can be an excellent way to assuage concerns of the unknown and appreciate the day for what it is: the beginning of opportunities versus the ending of something new and unique.

First Day and Last Day Blog full of Transition