As an Occupational Therapist (OT), I frequently make annual suggestions for back-to-college transition supports for students with specific demands. A friend’s current social media post that spoke of the usual feelings of excitement typically emanating from her niece and nephew getting replaced this year by uncertainty and anxiousness prompted me to expand the idea to incorporate suggestions for ALL young children returning to college. Mental wellness and well-being seem to be a focus with quite a few states releasing ESSER plans that help Mental Health and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Strategies. Primary care physicians and other wellness care practitioners report shifts in the focus of preventative healthcare expanding to incorporate discussions of handling strain more holistically.
In common, most young children thrive on structure and predictability, social interactions, and play as effectively as relying on steady and healthful adult relationships. These ideas have all been impacted by the pandemic with adjustments in college routines, cancellations of social events and gatherings, along with the added strain of their adult caregivers. Often labeled “Complex Trauma” as it is more extended term and far reaching, we are now seeing the effects of this in a new mental health crisis.
Along with other national organizations, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has compiled a list of these back-to-college resources. In addition, check out these 5 timely transition suggestions that might be very easily incorporated into SEL and Trauma Informed Care practices to help all students in an work to decrease anxiousness and help mental wellness and well-being:
- Establishing structure and routine are very important for stability. In addition, visual schedules might assist in decreasing anxiousness. Often integrated as a studying approach for students on the autism spectrum, a visual schedule displays a clear external structure for the college day, and physiologically might be calming for students. Although day-to-day and weekly activities might differ, the routine of making use of a visual schedule might assist provide security and predictability. Like above, making use of a visual timer might also be effective, in particular for students that might struggle with interest and/or visual spatial ideas of analog or digital time readouts.
- Practice mindfulness making use of movement and breath. Stress and anxiousness can trigger the sympathetic nervous method which, in turn, activates the fight, flight, or freeze response. Deep breathing workouts are a foundation for standard mindfulness, meditation, and yoga practices. Childcraft Breathe with Me Carpet Squares provide a visual cue for the inhale/exhale procedure and are super straightforward to implement. Body Poetry Yoga Cards also use image cues to demonstrate standard movement and postures. Both breath and bodywork might assist counteract strain by tapping into the parasympathetic nervous method, which signals the body to cease the emergency response and calm down.
- Offer alternatives for decreasing sensory overload. Students with sensory processing troubles might frequently be overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights, and sounds even though people experiencing trauma might have heightened states of arousal which might mimic this hypersensitivity. Options to decrease auditory overload like noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs might be beneficial as are alternatives to decrease/filter visual lighting input like Cozy Shades. Creating Sensory Spaces is essential to any studying atmosphere to provide a protected haven for students to regroup and create self-regulation capabilities.
- Deep touch stress and heavy work activities activate the proprioceptive method which might assist market calming and organizing responses. Pulling a heavy wagon, sweeping with a broom (with additional weight attached), carrying a load of books, or performing a series of wall pushups are all speedy activities to incorporate this sensory approach for the duration of the day. In addition, weighted products like lap pads, stuffed animals, or blankets might also assist help this self-regulation.
- Finally, be certain to provide help for expressing feelings and feelings. Many students might obtain expressing their feelings intimidating or difficult so making use of support tools to encourage self-awareness and self-expression might assist with SEL capabilities.
Visit our website for more suggestions on transition suggestions. Let’s assist all students really feel protected, supported, and sturdy this college year!
Cecilia Cruse, MS, OTR/L has a BS degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Florida, and her Master’s degree in Education from Georgia State University. She is SIPT certified and has more than 25 years’ practical experience in pediatrics with college-primarily based services, acute care, and outpatient pediatric settings.
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