Managing the Time Change.
Daylight Savings Time is approaching and while we can anticipate the change because it happens in both the Fall and the Spring, it can still be really difficult for out bodies and minds to adjust. For children with autism, ADHD, or anxiety, this small change can really affect their functioning until they are fully used to the difference. But, there are a few things that you can do, as a parent, to help lessen the blow. Lisa Lightner is an IEP/Special Education Advocate who wrote an article, "Small Time Change, Huge Disruption/Daylight Savings Time and Autism/ADHD Tips," for her blog, A Day in Our Shoes. She wrote this article to highlight the effects of Daylight Savings Time on both parents and their children. In all humans, DTS can increase our risk of heart attack or stroke within the first 48 hours of change, fatal car accidents can increase by 6%, as well as, increased eating, fogginess, feelings of jetlag, and increased agitation due to loss of sleep are reported. Because our bodies function on a circadian rhythm, when we lose sleep, we can experience a whole host of health problems. Our bodies value sleep and we can really struggle if we do not get an adequate amount. Kids are much more sensitive to changes in their body clocks than adults are, so daylight savings time impacts them more severely. Parents know their own children best, so you know if you child prefers a routine or if they need an explanation or just get overcome with anxiety. One way to start preparing for the time change is to start communicating with your child about the time change and then just gradually moving sleep and wake times to help them better adjust. You can also evaluate if and when your child needs an explanation. Some children prefer to be prepared weeks in advance for a big change and you can decide how detailed that explanation needs to be. Other, prefer to be told the day of because any notice too far in advance just causes more anxiety. Some children may also require a "why" factor within their explanation, again, it just depends on what your child needs. If your child is very clearly struggling with the change, then it may be worth it to notify teachers or the IEP team at school, so they can be aware of any possible behavior changes and offer any help that they think is necessary and/or beneficial. You can also use visuals if your child prefers that. You can do things like circling the date on the calendar or have them change the clocks with you. If your child is struggling to fall asleep you can do things like get room-darkening shades or just simply ask your child's doctor if they recommend any certain remedies, especially if your child is on medication. You can also get them their own special clock that notifies them when it is okay to get up in the morning or provide them with a silent activity, like a book on their nightstand, to encourage them to stay in bed and do that task until it is an appropriate waking time. It is also important that you and your children stay hydrated and get some fresh air every day, as well as, keeping your schedules pretty clear and avoid adding extra activities just to take up time or "tire them out." Most importantly, try and remember to give yourself and the members of your family some grace, extra time, and patience during this time of adjustment. Any and all change is hard, but when it screws with your internal clock and functioning, it can be even more challenging, but it does not have to ruin your life or your daily practices.