The other OT’s at Sprout all know that I am well and truly in denial about finishing up and going on maternity leave at Christmas time. Although I have a new and exciting adventure waiting for me (and don’t get me wrong, I am ecstatic about becoming a mum!!), I am incredibly sad to have to say goodbye to all the Sprout families I have had the pleasure of working with this year, and some of which I have worked with over the past four years.

I can deny there is a big change on the horizon all I like, but inevitably over the coming weeks I am going to have to start saying goodbye to my cherished clients and their families.

I keep reminding myself that change is good…it’s healthy…and it’s a necessary step for moving forward, and whilst it seems so hard to say goodbye now, I have to trust that the world won’t stop spinning just because this huge change has taken place.

Just like me, many of our kids are starting to face inevitable change and the need to say ‘goodbye’ to someone, or somewhere special too. For our kinder kids, it’s saying goodbye to their much loved kinder room and teachers and saying hello to their new schools. For our Grade Six students it’s time to say goodbye to their familiar primary school and take the giant leap into Secondary School. And for everyone else, it’s time to say goodbye to their current teacher and hello to someone completely new.

For our ASD kids, or children with anxiety, you may start to notice a change in their behaviour over the coming weeks, including increased generalised anxiety, as the reality of the end of year and pending change starts to sink in. This is perfectly normal- and even typically developing children can find this time of year challenging.

And you may even notice yourself, as a parent or caregiver, that you’re starting to gear up to say ‘goodbye’ to a much loved teacher or school, and this can be unsettling. Over the year you no doubt will have formed a strong partnership and trust with your child’s current teacher, and it can be scary to think you need to start all over again with someone new.

Don’t forget that your child is highly likely able to sense or ‘feed off’ your own anxieties- and if they see that you’re anxious about their transition, they are likely to feel increasingly worried or unsettled also.  Remember the best way to tackle any change is through preparation- have an open dialogue with your child over the coming weeks about ‘saying goodbye’, with the emphasis on all the new and exciting things they will get to say ‘hello’ to shortly. Help them to find a meaningful way to say goodbye to their current teacher, and perhaps a fun way to introduce themselves to their new teacher.

Take heart in knowing that your child’s new teacher will be well aware that the start of a new school year can be challenging for your child and yourself- and they are highly likely to want to work with you to make this transition as smooth as possible.

If you have particular concerns about your child’s transition to a new teacher in a few short weeks it is important to discuss this with your child’s school and develop a transition plan to make ‘saying goodbye’ less daunting, and saying ‘hello’ to someone new, all that more exciting. For additional support, please discuss your child’s transition with your treating Occupational Therapist, as they may be able to offer more specific strategies to help your child, yourself, and your child’s school through this upcoming period of change.

Luckily I don’t have to say goodbye just yet… I’m signing off with ‘see you over the next couple of weeks’!

See I told you…total denial!

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