My younger son, who has Aspergers, started secondary school today, and left the house this morning, wearing his new school tie (that’s a novelty) and blazer (2 sizes too big, of course)!
Aspergers children are particularly wary of change, and yet all children starting secondary school this week may have anxieties about this big step up in school life.
So, how many NLP techniques have I been utilising over the last few weeks, to ensure this morning went as smoothly as possible, and ended up being a relaxed and positive experience for him.
Future Pacing / Visualisation
When he has been anxious, I have talked him through imagining how he will feel next week, next month and even next year, when all the new and strange routines are now familiar and he knows exactly what he is supposed to be doing and when!
Mental (and practical) Rehearsal
We’ve talked through, a number of times, what was going to happen today – right down to the fine details of some things, like what he’s going to have in his lunch box. We walked the school route a few times during the holidays so it’s already familiar to him
I’ve been using some strategy elicitation by asking him to remember other times when he has been worried and getting him to remember what things he did on those occasions to help himself. This has worked by empowering him to recognise there have been other challenges he has met and come through in the past…and so he knows he can do this again.
In addition, I’ve also offered him some strategies, which he has learned and can fall back on if all else fails. For example, he is very reluctant to make new friends, so he has learned a couple of things he can say to ‘break the ice’ with new classmates.
And finally…State Management – for me, that is.
We do the best we can, as parents, and then we have to nudge our young offspring to the side of the nest and let them fly for themselves. When he went off with a smile and a wave this morning… I went back indoors with a tear (or two) in my eye, reflecting on another milestone reached.
The 11 year old walking to school today will have metamorphosed by the time he leaves school at 18 (I know because my older son is 24!)! The next stage of the journey has begun…