09/03/2015 07:38 EDT | Updated 09/03/2016 05:59 EDT

5 First Day of School Survival Tips for Special Needs Parents

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african american mom and daughter hold hands while walking

So we have arrived. It is the first day of school for my son, and I have done everything to try and stay calm and collected. Well, for the most part. And when I had little oops moments -- like forgetting one bag of his school supplies at home and having to make a second trip to school to bring them in -- I laughed about them.

I think all parents are frazzled at this time of year, particularly special needs parents whose children take anxiety for school to a new level. What can we do as parents to make the first day of school easier? Well, I have found out that the following five things have helped me survive that first day (and pretty much the next few weeks until he adjusts to the new schedule.) So, without further ado, here they are:

1. Start as early as possible buying the school supplies. We get our list at the end of June, beginning of July, but usually end of July to the beginning of August is when the sales start. After four years, I finally do my shopping then instead of running around a week before and wondering where all the supplies are.

2. Look through their cupboards and see what they have outgrown. I did it late this year, but usually wait until mid summer to see if he needs new shirts, pants, shoes etc. Again, the early bird gets the worm.

3. This should actually have been number 1 for those REALLY anxious kids. Start talking with your child/ren about back to school, and preparing them by reading books about it, writing a social story, looking at pictures and letting them take part in the prep work. I let my son bring the school supplies in with me this year to see his classroom and teacher and mentally prepare better, as he is SUPER nervous about going back to school. He helped me with a "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" photo album choosing the pictures to put in. Remember, most of our kids are visual learners and have photographic memory. What they see repeatedly stays with them, for better or worse.

4. Start getting your child/dren used to getting up early and going to bed early at least a week in advance if possible. Make sure as well that you get a good night's rest. If you are both rested, you will handle things better.

5. Remind them about seeing their friends, the positive things they like about school (for mine it was Music Class and Recess) :) and how excited you are to hear about their first day when they come home. I have been saying this for weeks now to build momentum. I think it has helped.

I hope you find the list helpful, and remember, if you forget things or aren't as organized as you'd like to be, don't worry. Go with the flow, stay calm, and laugh about the little mishaps. It's a great way to start the year off right, and show your child/dren that life may be unpredictable sometimes, but it doesn't have to spell disaster. Oh, and have a nice bottle of wine ready by the end of the day. Happy back to school week! :)


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