Back to School

What does “back to school” mean to you?

New teachers, new backpack, new peers, new therapy schedules, new classroom, new aides, new shoes, etc.

“Back to School” is a lot of “new” for a child who finds comfort in daily routines and relies on the fulfillment of specific expectations.  “Back to School” can also mean a lot of stress for the parents of that child.…and now I’m going to add one more thing to your To Do List. 

The week before school starts is also a good time to make a video recording of your child and review their current progress in the home program.  (Don’t worry if school just started!  You can still make that video.)

The primary purpose of this recording is to document progress over time.  Ideally parents can record their child four times a year – right before school starts, before Winter Break, before Spring Break, and the very end of the school year.  Recording at these times should capture the cumulative effects of the social development and academic progress made in school and the effects of service changes over the summer, as well as overall skill development.  If this is too much, try for at least twice a year.  (On the flip side, you can always record more often.  Recording new inappropriate behaviors, difficult activities or environments, and particularly successful activities and environments can be very useful for treatment development.)

When recording, strive to keep things as natural as possible.  If possible, the child should not be aware that they are being recorded, either by keeping the camera in the environment at all times (so it is not an anomaly) or by disguising the camera.

Try to record in a variety of settings with a variety of people.  You can recruit therapists and family members to help.  There is no need to capture the exact same settings each time you record. As long as a variety of settings are recorded, your child’s progress should be well-documented. If your child’s school or home provider is using an electronic progress tracking system, like Skills®, you can also download current copies of your child’s lesson list, progress tracking chart,  behavior intervention plan (BIP), and behavior tracking chart to keep with the recording.

Your goal is to create an accurate picture of your child, so don’t worry about editing.  If your child’s behavior is exceptional (in either direction), make note of it so the information can be shared with the video.  It is also helpful to jot down any relevant details about each recording, (e.g., new therapist, familiar peer, the game being played is usually a source of conflict, etc.).

Here are some potential activities to record:

–          A therapy session

–          Washing hands, brushing teeth, making a sandwich, or a similar functional sequence

–          Pretend play with a peer or sibling – child taking on a role as well as figurine play

–          Independent play

–          Board or card game with a peer or sibling

–          Speaking or performing directly to the camera

–          Engaging in stereotypy

–          Eating a meal, including a family dinner

–          Any activities or instructions that typically evoke inappropriate behavior, tantrums, aggression, stereotypy, etc.

–          Conversation with a peer / sibling

–          Conversation with therapist / teacher

–          Conversation with parent

–          Doing homework or another activity that requires independent task persistence

–          Gross motor and/or playground play

–          Community activities – eating at a restaurant, grocery shopping, etc.

–          An activity that requires attending and memory

–          Problem solving – social and nonsocial problems

–          School – classroom, lunch and playground, if permitted

Have fun capturing your children on camera!  If you find some spare time, watch a few old recordings too.  It can be both rewarding and informative to see all the progress your child has made!

We hope the transition back to school goes well!