Family Magazine

The 'Drag to School' Morning Routine

By Gbollard @gbollard
This is a "Best of the Best" Post.
School is a drag. Literally.
I'm lucky because being a father, I only have to cope with the school morning routine on my days off. In those instances, I'm a novelty and the kids behave (a little) for me. My wife however has to deal with it every day - and it's not unusual for me to get an early morning phone call asking me to "tell my children something" or clarify "did you say that they could wear [insert ridiculous article of clothing here] to school today?".
I'm sure that getting ready for school is difficult with neurotypical kids but for children on the spectrum, it's enough to make you give up the "rat race" and home school instead.
Waking Up and Getting Dressed
Unless it was a late night the night before, we usually don't have too much trouble getting the boys to wake up. Insomnia is however, commonly associated with Aspergers, so depending upon your particular child, they may wake up but have difficulty doing much else.
For us, getting dressed is a nightmare. My children will often forget non-visible parts of their uniform, like underpants. You might think that your children are flouting your authority by not wearing them but it's more likely to be simply forgetfulness.
As an adult, I can clearly remember times in my childhood - and going all the way up to fifth grade at school where I forgot my underwear. In particular, this happened on sports days when I was already putting my PE uniform underneath my clothes. I'd be concentrating on what I needed to wear and would forget the essentials. It was embarrassing at school and I wasn't happy about it. I certainly didn't do it to be funny or to irritate my parents.
So... before you start to get annoyed at your children for these simple mistakes. Take a deep breath and ask yourself if they aren't already stressed out enough by it.
There's also the matter of finding the uniforms and the issues of fine motor skills. That's right, aspies often have difficulty with fine motor skills on things like buttons. Finding things is difficult too because many aspies have terrible organisational skills.
Finally, there are distractions like rules, TV, siblings, breakfast and toys. My youngest tends to have rules about everything and can get into a tizz if he doesn't have breakfast BEFORE he gets dressed. That was a good rule when he was younger and couldn't eat breakfast without spilling it all over himself but now that he can, it just gets in the way of things. It's better to have breakfast as a "reward" for when you're changed than to allow it to slow down the whole morning routine.
A note for dads. Don't be tempted to do cool things for breakfast on weekends. I put honey on my son's breakfast on Saturday and Sunday one weekend. From that point onwards he insisted that he have honey on it every day. It was bad enough when it was simply making his uniform sticky but then when it suddently ran out, it caused chaos, a meltdown and a refusal to go to school until breakfast was served "properly". My wife gave me hell for that one.
Some helpful rules
Some of the best morning rules you can enact with your spectrum children when getting ready for school are;
  • ALL Clothes to be laid out on their floor in a "body pattern" the night before - with inner layers (underwear etc) on TOP.
  • Only one child is allowed in the bathroom at any one time.
  • No toys, books or other non-clothing items to be handled before you are dressed.
  • Dressing to occur in (separate) bedrooms only, away from the distractions of siblings, TV and breakfast.
  • No breakfast until you pass clothing inspection.
Yes, I know it all sounds a little rigid but that's exactly what children with aspergers need. Routines and Rules.

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