S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E

January 21, 2008 Kyron No Comments

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is the day we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday. This means a day off of school. I now understand why my mother loathed days off of school. All kids thrive on a certain amount of structure. Katherine thrives on S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E. Katherine needs to KNOW what’s happening on a weekend. She plans what she’s going to drink when she gets in the car for a trip to the doctor two days ahead of time. This is a girl who most definitely does NOT go with the flow. She’s not alone of course. Many of our kids with traumatic brain injury, autism, and bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses need such structure.

This becomes an issue because *I* am not a structure girl. I am most certainly a fly by the seat of your pants kinda person. Amazingly enough, as laid back as I was I became even MORE unstructured because I could never appropriately anticipate what a day would bring. Katherine would inevitably throw a kink in the plan and I’d have to turn on a dime. So now I get to bring structure to our chaotic life, if even only for a day. If I forget and don’t do this – I get what I had this morning – hellish chaos. Yea, there were other factors that helped it along but my forgetting that it was going to be a holiday and putting a “plan” in place sure didn’t help.

For those of you who have school-age kids who similarly need structure to maintain stability my suggestion is as follows: try to make it as “normal” a day as possible.

  • Get up like you would on a school day (mistake #1 – I let her sleep in because *I* was exhausted).
  • Follow the school day schedule for mornings – get dressed, eat, brush teeth etc. I let the big treat be no brace and shoes if we’re not going out.
  • Do like they would in school. Have scheduled times for certain activities
    • 9-10 play with dolls
    • 10-10:30 color
    • 10:30-11 snack
    • 11-12 play on computer
    • 12-12:30 lunch
    • And so forth….and then review the schedule with them ahead of time so they know what the plan is.

Today our schedule wasn’t nearly so much fun. That was mistake #2 I forgot what it was to be a kid with a day off from school – some of it has to be fun. All I saw was a basket full of laundry that needed to be hung up and a major school project (which will likely be what you hear about next – LOL) that needed to be done and given the speed with which Katherine moves and what this project entails – a day off what just what the project needed!

Katherine needed for me to refer to #3 in my example and have something other than chores in place for today’s schedule.

Well we’re thru the morning, regrouped for the afternoon and added Katherine’s aide Sharon to the mix which should help. We’ll be making macaroni and cheese and crescent rolls, a salad and ginger snaps shortly. The laundry is still in the basket.

Fortunately Katherine is excited about PART of her school project – the part that involves the actual cooking….we’ll worry about the rest later. That would be me learning from mistake #2.

Hopefully scheduling for your child will help them adapt to a day off of school and make YOUR life easier. What other strategies do you have for dealing with days off of school?

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Categories : Autism, Diagnoses, Strategies

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