Charlie was told by his teacher, "Time for Art Charlie."
He would scream and run quickly under the closest table he could find and hold on to the legs for dear life, hoping no one could get him out.
He would scream things like, "No art!" or "No, No, No!"
He didn't want to move from his classroom into another setting that was more controlled. One that showed less grace.
He was fearful of the demands. He struggled with the larger number of students in the room. He didn't like music on all the time, which the art room had. He had a hard time with writing and didn't enjoy sitting for forty-five minutes doing a "project". He needed to walk around and self-talk. He needed grace. He needed preparation in order to transition to something that was overwhelming in his world.
This was a description of one of the many transitions that were hard for Charlie. He was about 10 years-old at the time.
Transitions for all of us are hard.
They can be brutal.
They are emotionally tough.
They drag us down and exhaust us.
They have us worrying ahead of time.
They bring fear and anxiety.
As parents it is like a roller coaster you are begging to get off sometimes. When they struggle to communicate it can be so much harder.
It is harder to figure out what the true problem is at times when they are struggling to express themselves fully.
I remember with Charlie it was like playing a game of charades.
"Charlie is it this? (Pointing to what we thought was the issue)
"Charlie is it too loud?"
"Charlie are you hungry?"
It was so frustrating, way more for him than me.
He would also close his eyes or squint to hopefully not "see" the transition coming. (He loved doing this also when getting his picture taken) He would do anything to avoid the changes. I would tell him sometimes things change and change is good. We said that phrase over and over again to help him feel more calm. He needed to know they are always going to be there, but how can we make them smoother?
We can plan for them more.
School has either just started or about to for your kids and what are we about to watch our kids do again... Transition! Yes you heard me... it is coming! They may be going to a new school, a new building, or maybe a family change since being at school last.
Some of our "kids' have graduated and what do those transitions look like?
They need to transition into real life.
They need to work on the life, social, and job skills that schools have a hard time getting to for any of our kids, not just our special needs kids.
They need to care for themselves, cook for themselves, and find some functional skill they are good at. They need to work on finding something they enjoy and can be a value to an employer (again, like any of us). The exception is many of our kids still need to be taught many skills to be successful and be able to be truly on their own.
They need our help again to transition.
Charlie is now 17 years-old and he has 3 more years of high school to finish. We are also working on the independent life skills too at home. I am working on preparing him to be on his own, that is always the goal. I want him to care for himself, find great friends, and even someone that he loves. I want him to buy his own groceries or even get a haircut on his own (now that was a huge transition just getting a haircut- can I get an Amen?)
How are you preparing your child to live and work on their own. We need to plan far ahead, even before they enter high school. Take it one day a time, one skill at a time, and one change at a time.
I remember screaming once during his younger years, "No more transitions! I can't do this!"
I can and Charlie can.
This means you can and so can your child.
I look at them as challenges I want to be ready for as best as I can so we can conquer them, not run away from or avoid them.
I hope you can look at transitions a little better today and don't be afraid of them.
Give yourself and your child some grace!