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Sensory Organizing - Dressing StationsA big part of supporting the Back-to-School transition has nothing to do with school — it happens in the many transitions at home around preparing for school. The morning transition can be one of the more challenging transitions as many of our rigid, anxious, or distracted kids have a hard time waking up in the morning, have anxiety about school in general, and/or know they will be working hard to pay attention and hold it together for the next 6 hours. Our goal is to make their mornings easier so they have more energy and willpower for the experiences where they will need it at school.

One way we can support a structured, simplified morning is to create a Dressing Station. This allows us to break the dressing task into 2 steps:
1) Evening Step: Pick out and put clothes in the dressing station the night before (this simplifies the morning and also helps our sensory kids begin the cognitive shift to school coming the next day).
2) Morning Step: In the morning, go to dressing area and get dressed.

A dressing area supports many rigid, anxious, or distracted behaviors.
– It helps our rigid child simplify a transition to an undesired task (school!).
– It helps our anxious child create a routine which will help calm and support their transition to something that might feel overwhelming (school!).
– It helps our distracted child stay on task with a simplified, visual plan to complete a task.

– It does the first step (and often hardest step for many sensory kids) of gathering supplies into one area and sequencing the task.
– We’ve broken down the task into manageable pieces.
– We’ve created a visual checklist of sorts with the 1,2,3 Labels / Picture Images.
– It can grow with your kids. As they get older, you can remove the visual supports. You can transition from images to numbers 1,2,3 and then to no visual supports besides the hooks or the chair.

* A 1,2,3 Bin System:
This works well for younger kids learning to dress and can be portable!
* A Hook System:
Can use with images, numbers or just have your child hang each item of clothing separately in order. A bag on a hook can hold socks / shoes.
* A Chair Station:
You can use duck tape to mark sections on the chair, have a basket under the chair to hold shoes and socks, or just pile everything on the chair (sometimes too much structure is just too much!).

*** For kids who might need to tap into the Power of Choice to stay regulated with this task, think about having 2 Dressing Stations – A Hook System and A Chair Station. If they are having a hard time doing step one (picking out clothes the night before), you can give them a choice of which dressing station to use – this might help get them over the hump.

– Bins for the 1,2,3 Bin System. These bins in this example are from Ikea –
– Row of Hooks – Can attach to a wall (make sure your hang at the right height for easy access to hooks and images / numbers) or if you child is tall enough, you can use Over-the-Door row of hooks. A Row of Hooks with 3 or 4 hooks works best. Here’s an example from Lowe’s –
– Picture Images: Take your own pictures of your real life tasks, pictures from magazines, stock photos, or image software like Boardmaker – , Picture Exchange Communication System – , or Do 2 Learn (can sign-up for an annual membership on Do 2 Learn!) –
– A Chair: One that has a design of “hook” corners or a flat top is best – 1) undergarments on seat of chair, 2) top on Left side of chair, 3) bottom on Right side of chair, and 4) shoes and socks under chair.
– Labels: Adhesive labels for a 1,2,3 visual support if needed.
– Small Binder Clips to attach labels to Bins.
– Optional: Laminating Machine to protect picture images.

Break it down, eliminate distracting stimuli, and create a visual support or a system. Try one of these easy Dressing Stations for a smoother morning transition. Sensory Organizing = Making Space for Life ~
1,2,3 Bin System
Hook System
Chair Station