As students with AS and NLD of all ages return to school, there’s two challenges: making the transition from summer to the school routine, and setting up the year to maximize success. Transitions and novelty often are the source of anxiety, so many AS and NLD students are increasingly anxious as that first day back to school approaches.
Anticipatory anxiety can be expressed as headaches, stomach aches, and specific fears of the year ahead: who’s in the classes, will there be bullying, what’s expected by teachers, having to take gym.
How can a parent help (or an older student prepare)?
Deal with anxiety:
- Recognize anxiety is a real feeling, but not an accurate prediction of what’s going to happen. Too often parents get caught up in the anxiety themselves.
- Meditation has been proven to turn off the “fight flight” response, and the breathing techniques are useful to use when there’s challenges or frustration. It’s a good time to start practicing daily. There’s apps for all ages.
- Exercise is another good way of dealing with anxiety. It doesn’t have to be a sport. Walking outside can be calming.
- AS and NLD students usually have ideas of what helps with anxiety but sometimes don’t initiate doing those things: reading, music, playing with pets.
- Use self talk – realistic self encouragement can be thought through ahead of time: “I can handle this,” “I know I can get help if I need it” are examples.
Dr. Marcia Eckerd has been in practice as a licensed psychologist since 1985. I am on the CT ASD Advisory Council and the Clinical Advisory Committee of the Aspergers/Autism Association of New England, as well the professional advisory board of Smart Kids with LD. Aspergers101 is honored to offered the knowledge and experience of Dr. Eckerd through her informative blogs!