The start of the new year can be a great time to create new routines at home for challenging times and difficult tasks especially as our sensory kids are moving into a time of core academic learning at school.  Most children do better with predictable schedules / routines and this is especially true for sensory kids – like those with anxiety disorder, sensory integration dysfunction, learning challenges, ADD/ADHD, obsessive/compulsive disorder, high-functioning autism, asperger’s syndrome, or other sensory challenges.  Creating some basic schedules and routines at home will support the structure they love and allow your time with your children to be as productive and relaxing as possible.

Start with solid morning and evening routines.  These two times of day tend to be consistently hard for sensory kids as they represent big transitions – one moving into school mode and one moving into rest/sleep mode.  Pay attention to what time of day is better for your child – if the morning is tougher, then most of the getting ready for school routine should be done the night before (clothes picked out, lunches made, backpack ready to go). Review the morning routine at bedtime to help your child know what to expect. If your child has great morning energy, save a few things to be done in the morning.  Creating a picture schedule or checklist to support all or some of these routines will make this process easier and be a great way to teach executive functioning skills.

Tap into school techniques. This can be a great time of year to review the homework / school work organizing plans you have had in place to see what needs to be tweaked.  Since teachers do a great job of creating structure and routines for our children at school, look at what sort of systems and visual aids are being used in your child’s classroom.  Ask your child’s teacher for their input on strategies and supports that work well for  your child and implement some of these techniques at home. By  bringing some of those same techniques home, you will be giving your child the consistency that can make the strategy successful in both places.

Build in Downtime. We know many sensory kids need time to decompress and regroup after the school day and this is especially true during an intense period of the school year.  Make sure after-school activities give your sensory child a bang for their buck.  It should be an activity that will be a good physical release for them, something that allows them to tap into one of their fascinations in a creative, stimulating way, and/or something that makes them feel all around great.

Most importantly, by creating daily routines, tapping into school strategies, and being mindful of activities, you are also showing your sensory child that their way of learning and processing is important and valued – something that will make them feel protected and supported.  Start the New Year off by embracing simple sensory systems for more peaceful days.