Back to School 

A little background information.

This is Amber she is 4 years old and has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) with traits of ADHD and Autism.

Amber has a younger sister Maisie who is 18 months old and lives with Mummy – Nicki and Daddy – Paul in a village in Worcestershire.
Amber is a lively little girl who’s always on the go, she finds it difficult to control her emotions and frustration. She requires a calm place if it all gets too much at home. Amber is a ‘Sensory Seeker’ and therefore will thrive on all sensory experiences, the messier the better! Family Fund provided Amber with a grant for Sensory toys and equipment from Learning SPACE and sessions at a local multi-sensory centre called SMILE (Sensation Movement Interaction in Life Experiences) at ARCOS (Association for Rehabilitation of Communication and Oral skills,) in Malvern, Worcestershire. We have noticed a marked improvement in Amber’s ability to cope with sensory overload, frustration and anger and will use the toys and equipment in her calm place.

Preparation for starting school this September. 

Amber has just finished a year at our local Pre School which she throughly enjoyed, and this enabled her to start to build friendships ready for school. I’m not sure who’s more nervous about Amber starting school – Amber herself or me! Coming from an education background, for the last 12 years I have been so used to receiving a new class every September, it’s a whole new experience for me to be on the other side! Since May 2016 there has been input about starting ‘big school,’ which has been important for Amber to prepare her for the change that is about to happen. However,  we have noticed a spike in Amber’s behaviour at home and in particular, her bedtimes have been disrupted. 

Amber thrives on structure and routine, she gets up every morning and asks “what are we doing today?” We use a visual timetable to inform her of what is happening each day. Amber likes being around other children and many adults in an education setting, in order to prepare her of the change in setting, adults and surroundings, her Pre School made a special key ring with pictures of the staff, various rooms and areas of the school. Therefore we have been looking at these pictures frequently over the holidays and have been talking about it together. 

We were impressed with the amount of transition visits Amber’s new school had arranged for their new intake. Some of these sessions I attended as well and I could already see that the classroom is going to suit Amber due to the sensory play opportunities on offer and a large outdoor space. I was so impressed when the school’s Inclusion Officer said that Amber will have a specified quiet area of the classroom with a basket of sensory items if she gets a bit overwhelmed. The key here was to arrange a meeting before Amber starts the school and this will then be followed up with a multi – agency meeting at the school during her second week. The class teachers have arranged a home visit for the first week of term to allow them to see Amber in her home surroundings, which I think is so important as Amber does tend to behave differently at home than she does at any educational setting.

Uniform

Such a cheeky grin!

Amber is not a fan of ‘itchy’ materials as she calls them, nor socks as she takes them off everytime at home. Amber hasn’t worn a skirt since around the age of 2 and she isn’t keen at all on tights, again calling them “itchy.” We are lucky that trousers are permitted for girls to wear, so I ensured that I bought ones that are of soft and light texture. She may request to wear a skirt if she sees that other class – friends are, so I’ve ensured that I have both options. Amber is also not keen on labels in her clothes – I’m the same and can remember an itchy label in my neckline once affected my whole day at school. I will therefore cut the labels out to avoid any discomfort.

Amber has a staggered entry into school for the first 2 weeks which will allow her to stay for the morning then experience a week with lunchtimes before starting full time in the 3rd week. I can imagine that Amber will be very tired in her first few weeks whilst adjusting to the change, so will be be prepared at home when she returns and I would think that she’s going to require quite a lot of time in her ‘calm area’ where she has Sensory toys, bubbles tubes, etc.

We are excited about this new experience but you always have in the back of your mind – will everything be ok? But we’re luckily to have such a supportive team already at the school to aid the process.

We can’t wait to take that all important ‘First Day of School’ photo – my mum still has mine! Daddy has even taken the day off to share the experience! 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

I can’t believe where those 4 and a half years have gone!

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