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Three Ways to Help a Child Transition to and from a School Break

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

1. Create a visual calendar A visual calendar shows the days a child will be in school and the days they will be at home/on vacation/at camp. This visual representation (see photo above) allows a child to process what is to come and take ownership over their days. To make it visual, it's important to use pictures of a where they will be (e.g., home, camp, school). This strategy is helpful for all children, but can be especially supportive of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or ADHD. Children with these profiles often thrive on structure, routines, and consistency, so when a part of their day deviates from the norm it can be particularly jarring. Providing time to process and prepare for the change can be helpful. Children with ADHD frequently have executive function deficits, including difficulties with working memory (i.e., hearing information, holding onto it and using it to do something ) and slower processing speeds, so providing them with tools to support their understanding of a change can be helpful. 2. Prepare a social story Social stories are systematic stories created to preview a situation that may evoke strong feelings from a child. A change in routine can be one of those moments A few resources for creating social stories include:

  • https://carolgraysocialstories.com/

  • https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/social-stories-for-autistic-children/

  • https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/therapies-guide/social-stories

3. Build in extra time in the morning routine when there is a change Oftentimes the transition to a new activity (e.g., camp) or an activity there has been a break from (e.g., school) is a stressful experience and one a child might avoid. To reduce stress and ensure positive associations with going build in extra time to keep the experience calm and positive.


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