Backpack and school supply shopping can be so overwhelming. At a glance one can see brightly colored notebooks and folders, scissors, pencils, glue, lunch boxes, and other miscellaneous items. For parents, though, shopping with a sensory child can be daunting. Should they get the thin markers or the thick ones? What happens if your child only wants to write with mechanical pencils or only likes the color green? What happens if the school's suggested organization hacks don't work for your child?
Flexibility is a trait that is difficult for many children with special needs. And unfortunately, a trait that is also difficult for many teachers as well. So how can the great minds meet in the middle?
Having regular conversations or developing social stories around school supplies and organization are good ways to address possible pitfalls. For example, stress the positives about ordering school supplies from the school (it shows our school spirit, we will be like everybody else, the teachers told the people packing the boxes exactly how it should be, or even the school supplies will be ready and waiting on the first day). For children that need the school supplies personalized or customized, look for stickers so they can make the supplies their own.
Have a scavenger hunt with kids who like to buy their supplies (let's see if we can find the package with two glue sticks, or I need 4 folders in different colors).
Think about backpacks. Look at the weight, color, how many compartments, the design. Many schools do not like roller backpacks, but I remember when my son was little his coordination was not good enough for him to carry the backpack, so the school allowed him to have one. Carrying all of the supplies can be really hard for some students. Ask if teachers can keep two backpacks or have a bin that students can leave supplies in so they are not lost, do not get too overwhelmed by what to put where, or the backpack is not too heavy.
Have a weekly folder check in and sort so kids are sure they have everything they need and they know where it goes.
Once again, communication is the key. Talking to teachers and kids about what to expect will make the start of the school year something to look forward to and you can check organization off your list!!