Special needs

Separation anxiety after the winter break?

Anchel Krishna's daughter skips the separation anxiety and thrives at school.

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Syona is excited for her first day back at school after the holidays. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

Around this time last year I wrote a blog post called “Why January is the new September.” It outlined Syona’s tough transition back to school following the holidays. It wasn’t long after writing that post that we pulled her from the program after we realized it wasn’t as inclusive of an environment as we’d hoped.

This year, our story is completely different. Syona went back to nursery school last week and the transition was smooth. No stress, no tears and no regressive behaviour.

Dilip dropped her off after a couple of weeks away from school and she just looked at him and said “Bye bye, Daddy.”

When I picked her up last Friday I had a chance to chat with her teacher about how well things have been going. It took a few weeks for Syona to settle back into school in September, but since then things have been good.

The school staff work on building Syona’s social interactions, intentionally pairing her with peers who are a good fit so she gets more comfortable around other kids.

Read more: Why sippy cups make me sad >

Recently, Syona was having a hard time when they placed her on the rug for some tummy time (tummy time is really good for Syona because it encourages her to develop strength and stretch her muscles). She would cry, yell and refuse to play. The teacher quickly figured out that Syona felt unsafe because she was lying on the ground with limited mobility while the other kids in her class were able to move around. The teacher’s solution was to ensure an adult stay close by while Syona is on the ground to reassure her that she is safe and they are watching. The most amazing part is that the school figured this out on their own and found an easy solution.

They also figure out ways to adapt activities so that Syona can participate. They champion her wins and encourage her to keep trying when things get challenging. With the school’s support and Syona’s hard work we’ve seen her transform from a toddler to a kid who uses her words and actions to express herself. It’s incredible.

Read more: How to grow your toddler’s self-esteem >

This is a wonderful transition as we move into our next major milestone: junior kindergarten (JK). Syona will start in September and registration is coming up really soon. I know that transitioning a child with special needs into the school system isn’t always easy but I feel like we’ve established a solid foundation and understand how great school can be for Syona when she has the proper support in place. Although I’m looking forward to Syona attending school, I’m sure that when the day comes to register, I’ll fill out the paperwork and fight back the tears as we cross yet another milestone. “They grow up so fast” is the cliché that seems to ring truer and truer with every milestone.

Are you registering your kids for school this winter?