School Cancelled? 3 Things to Help Your Child Who Uses AAC
I heard that school for your AAC user has been canceled for a few weeks. I am a mom who teaches her children at home. I have never experienced the exact feelings you must have woken up with this morning. But I am also the mom of a child with complex communication needs who uses an AAC device. My little guy has had frequent hospitalizations. I have experienced drastic interruptions to his and our lives. One moment everything is going as expected, and the next moment everything has been turned upside down. I get it.
As a homeschooling special needs mom, I’ve spent a lot of days at home. There have been the school days at home. There have been extra days at home due to my son’s unique needs during flu and cold season. Home with children for long stretches of time is very familiar to me. Here are three things that help me.
1. Get Dressed
This isn’t one day off school for snow. This isn’t summer break. It isn’t a weekend. It is a long stretch of weekdays in the middle of March that no one expected. The first and best thing to do every morning is to get dressed. Get your kids dressed. Your day will go better if everyone is dressed and ready for the next thing.
2. Make a Plan
You are used to a routine. There is a routine for getting out the door and to school. Children have a routine in their classrooms. You have a routine for work or what you do at home while they are gone. There is an after school routine. Routines must change, but the need for routine does not. Everyone will feel safer if there continues to be a pattern to your lives.Take some time this weekend to think about what you want your children’s days off school to look like. What is important to your family to do everyday? Does your school have some online learning in place that you must fit in? Do you have chores or an organization project you want to tackle together? Want to take some hikes? Start a garden? Read more books? Make a list of everything you might want to put in a day. Include screen time on the list if that fits your family culture. Write your plan down. Write your meal times down first, then fill in the gaps.A very general plan for our day might look like this:Get ready
Daddy Home – project or outside
Writing your new routine down means everyone will know what to expect. Draw little pictures if your child benefits from a visual schedule. This does not need to be elaborate or use your child’s AAC symbols. Paper, pen, and basic drawings work. A sun can indicate outside time. A plate and cup can symbolize a meal. Also, don’t overstress initially about the details. You can brainstorm with your children how to fill your routine with specific activities. Will you use sidewalk chalk or take a walk during outside time on Monday? That decision can be made Monday morning at breakfast.
3. Prepare for Communication
Did your child bring their AAC device home for the break? Great! Revisit your home plan for charging and keeping the device available to you all day. We find having dedicated spots in every room to set the device helps us keep track of it.If you don’t have access to the AAC tools your child was using at school – consider printing a low-tech version your school’s core vocabulary board. Don’t have that? There are many online free versions that you can use. One I know of is Project Core. Find printable options here: www.project-core.com/communication-systems
Deep breath. Savor your Saturday. Think ahead a little to Monday.
You are going to make it.