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School run stress - ASD(16 Posts)
Hi, I have a three year old DS with suspected ASD (waiting for diagnosis) and I am really struggling at the moment taking him on the school run with his 2 older sisters. I wondered if anyone else had had similar experiences and found anything that helped. We only live a couple of minutes walk from the school gate but he has become very resistent to walking in that direction and in the last few days I have had to pick him up kicking and screaming just to get his sisters to school. I am worried he may run onto the road as he is difficult to control. He is clearly stressed out but I am not sure what exactly is triggering this, or what to do about it. He has generally calmed down shortly after we get through the school gates. I also feel bad that I am being short tempered with his sisters which is not fair but on top of the other daily challenges his behaviour brings it's starting to overwhelm me. Just generally feeling unsupported by the local authority I think and like I am struggling alone especially as my husband has to be at work and can't help out with this.
That sounds upsetting. What helps us is lots of pre-warning and countdowns before leaving the house - to manage the transition. For a 3 year old I'd probably try to make things easy for myself by using a buggy and deck it out with all favourite things/fluffy blankets/teddies/the works to make it a nice place to be. If that doesn't help could you try to establish if he wants to dictate your route to school? A friend's son likes to decide which direction the family go/places to cross roads etc needing control to feel less anxious. It's hard but hopefully with trial and error you can work out what will help.
I had this for months and months with DS3 who is waiting for ASD assessment. For him, he really isn't good with short trips out - he likes to go out for the duration IYKWIM. I wish I could give some sage advice but he's just stopped kicking off.
Is there something he particularly likes in the other direction like a shop or the park etc? Maybe try taking a photo of the school and using that as a visual prompt, then when you are going to his preferred place have a photo of that (which did help me with another scenario but it didn't occur to me to try with the school carry on).
We used a buggy until ds was nearly 4. Pulled the hood right over so he could hid up in below it.
I could have written this last year. I used the buggy, often as just a restraint for a screaming child! I used the rain over as a barrier and later ear defenders, she often put a blanket over her head. We were so close I also made friends with a few mums for collections I just couldn't move her for, I'd text and they'd get DS.
At 5 I use a buggy at lot still, at least a board if not the double. She has run into traffic even recently, I'd rather use it than risk. She's also a refuser so I can't move her now she's bigger without it
Thanks for your helpful replies so far. It is possible it is something to do with him dictating the route and as it's now half term next week for us we might try walking down school his way and see how we do. I guess my only nervousness about letting him decide the route is could it get more convoluted over time? Getting the kids to school is such a nightmare anyway I could do without a big detour beforehand. He used to go happily in the buggy but then my husband took him down one day when I was away and let him walk and now he won't get in the buggy ever! Thanks DH. Maybe an iPad or phone would help though.
Will also try a photo prompt, thanks for that suggestion
I have photos, e.g. Boots, coat, buggy, school. It helps hugely
It might be worth trying the buggy again if it hasn't been used for a little while. DS3 also quite likes to pack a little child's suitcase on wheels and to take a packed lunch like his older brothers do.
I have to take a detour every morning on the way to school. It really helps keep my DS calm. He wants to go the exact same predictable route every morning. I also can't take him during the very busy time. It is too busy and unpredictable when everyone else is going into school. He was the same when he was three. He needed everything to be his way and could not handle unpredictable. It must be very difficult for you when you have two other children. I only have DS so is easy for me to do things to suit him. I hope things get better.
For my DS distraction is the thing that makes our mornings easier. He listens to his favourite music at breakfast. He seems to focus on the music and it stops him thinking about things get annoyed about.
I talk to him about things that interest him whenever I sense he's about to get annoyed.
Ideally you could somehow get your DS back into the buggy - maybe if he knew he could look at your phone or iPad only if he goes in there. Would he listen to music on headphones or eat a snack in the buggy?
I had my younger son (no ASD) in a buggy until he was well over 4 as he was a nightmare on the school run. He's very lazy and would shout and cry in the mornings if he had to walk. He's still a bit difficult in the mornings whereas his brother (with ASD) is easier to manage with distraction.
You need to get him back in the buggy. Start by using the buggy when it is not the school run, and give lots of positive associations, go somewhere he likes when he gets in, snacks, toys. Never use it as a restraining device/make negative associations. If necessary buy a new buggy, which is large and comfortable. You have two more years of this and you will not regret your investment!!
It is the transition/change of environment that will be bothering him, that ,and the fact that it is a stressful time of day, and he will be picking up on the fact that it is a demand. After school he can then do some running around in a safe place if he wants. All the people and the noise of the school environment will also be a trigger for him, possibly once he is there he realises it is not so bad, but like all anxiety it builds in advance.
The other good thing about a buggy is that you can avoid the whole getting the coat on boots on bit, he could actually go in his pjs if you have a snuggly buggy blanket/sleeping bag thing, and then go home and get dressed after the school run.
You could also do a social story about going to school, ie a talk through in advance about getting in the buggy, getting ready (if he likes putting his coat and shoes on) having his breakfast and coming home again afterwards and playing (sorry wrong order, obv breakfast first). First this, then this, then this, with little pictures. You might find some pictures books with stories about getting ready for school.
Luckily I had to drop my older one off first, and we were right next to school, but i can remember it took forever to walk to nursery and there was no hurrying them, lots of detours. However, they arrived happy and exercised if a little late.. I decided that it was better for them to be late for nursery than to have the meltdowns.
Thanks again everyone for your messages. I think I will try the buggy again this week, maybe giving him my phone to play with or something and snacks and then I have the option to go back to that every day. Think I will also ask for help from a friend with collections more often. It's reassuring to know others have had similar situations xx
I hate the school runs. My nearly four year old has asd and she always goes in her buggy. As she often screams, will run off and is very unpredictable. It's much safer for her and she's only in it twenty minutes max. She often has my phone and will watch videos with the hood up.
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