It’s almost the end of the Easter holidays and I’m back at work after some much-needed time off. But it’s not just regular holidays that are important to my wellbeing: short breaks every day have always been crucial to helping me study, work and stay focussed. Learning to take breaks and understanding the type of breaks that work for your body and mind is useful for everyone. But in my view, it’s particularly important for neurodiverse children and young people.
This is a post about ‘break cards’ aimed at the teachers, parents, carers or anyone supporting young people who tic. I’m writing it because I’ve had a number of conversations recently about how to support young people in educational settings. I mentioned break cards in my post for teachers but I thought it would be useful to do a more detailed post about them.
In my experience, giving a young person a ‘break card’ they can show to teachers or support staff when they need some time away from the classroom is quite common, but I’m also aware that sometimes they’re used to tell young people when to take a break rather than helping them learn what their body or mind needs.
Break cards make taking a break easier at school or at home, often they are created quite quickly so are pretty basic, I drew some which I’ve take time and care to create. These can be downloaded here along with the tips on how to use them.
In my view, break cards help in three key ways:
1) They make asking for a break as quick and easy as possible
2) They help the user learn what types of break work best for them
3) They’re a visual reminder for a user that they can take a break or ask for other types of support
Taking a break doesn’t always mean having a rest. When I was at school my teachers were constantly sending me on errands, and I understand now that these movement breaks were vital to me being able to focus and learn. My teachers didn’t explain this to me though, and so it was years before I knew how to recognise what I needed, and even longer before I felt confident enough to ask for it. Taking breaks is a skill, and teachers and families have an important role to play in helping young people use this powerful tool.
My tips for using a break card for young people are here.
My tips for adults introducing or supporting students to use break cards are here.
I’d love to know how you get on with these cards and to hear what works and what doesn’t work about them. Or if you make your own card, I’d love to see it.
Now I’ve written this, I’m off to have a break!