During the holidays, Tom was anxious about going back to school. Due to his communication difficulties, he struggled to find the words to tell me how he was feeling but I knew from his angry outbursts, repetitive questions, and frequent meltdowns that he was nervous about returning to school.
I was dreading the return of the school morning challenge – getting everyone out of the door on time dressed, fed, clean, and with all the right kit. I was fed up with being a shouty mum.
Using visual supports made our lives much easier and going back to school much less stressful for all our family. Here’s what we used to help us:
- Pictures of faces showing different emotions to help Tom quickly and easily communicate to me how he felt about going to school. This meant I understood how he was feeling and enabled me to reassure him and help him feel better.
- Pictures showing Tom’s morning and evening routine to help him understand what he needed to do without me constantly nagging him. This led to a calmer and less chaotic start and end to the day.
- A packing checklist attached to Tom’s school bag to remind him what to pack so he didn’t worry about forgotten things.
- A visual timetable so Tom could easily see the structure of his school day so that he didn’t have to constantly ask his teacher what he was supposed to be doing next.
Knowing what to expect during his day helped to reduce Tom’s anxiety levels, frustrations, and meltdowns. Being able to organise himself, use his school timetable, and take responsibility for his own personal care boosted his self-esteem.
Tom was happier, calmer, and proud of himself for being independent. He was less stressed and better able to concentrate and learn.
We put together our favourite TomTag visual supports to create this amazing value Back-to-School Toolkit to help other families like us who struggle with going back to school.
How does TomTag work?
TomTag uses symbols to show a series of separate tasks or steps involved in a task that are part of a routine, a sequence of events in a timeline, or they can be used as a list to teach a new skill by breaking down a single activity into smaller steps.
Many children with autism and other additional needs have strong visual skills. They are more likely to remember and understand what they have seen rather than what they hear. Using a visual support like TomTag to present information visually and in a step-by-step manner allows visual thinkers and learners to take in information at their own pace. Visuals can also act as a reminder when children forget what’s been said or become distracted, TomTag helps to bring their attention back to the task or current situation.
Our customers say
“Tom tags are brilliant. My son is ADHD, ASD, and PDA so trying to get him to follow a routine without making it feel like demands is really tough. Tom tags help him to see his routine visually without me having to demand.”
“I recently got myself some Tom tags to help with my morning and evening routines and so far they are really helping. It’s been really helpful to have all the steps and tasks laid out, so I don’t get caught up in my head wondering what to do first or what I even have to do anyways. ”
“They allow my 7 year old to create, then to carry his visual timetable with him at school. It is the only visual he will use for school.”
“They really are amazing. My son went back to school today and while he has always struggled to organise himself, this morning he knew exactly what he needed to do and exactly what he needed to take to school. What a stress-free morning, I could get used to this!”