Types of Regression after a break or vacation: Cognition Attention Behavior (CAB)
We all feel the mental fatigue when we get back from a break. Our most redundant tasks seem like a brand-new chore in our life. We forget what exit we had to get off and remembering our infernal password causes physical pain. I at least put my key in the right door, but to a room on the wrong floor.
This fatigue is felt by everyone. The security guards, the lunch lady, the principal and especially the students. They most likely spent their break on a tablet, watching TV and thinking about how they don’t want to go back to school. And here we are.
There is always a dip in cognition when we return to the rote tasks we haven’t done in a while. It’s Monday x10. We are creatures of habit and we see just how much we rely on our routine when it changes, or we have an extended break from it. We are all rusty. It’s like hitting the gym after not being there for a week. It isn’t a matter of making progress, it is about returning to baseline.
It is simply a call to be patient. We cannot expect the same results or level of function after a break.
Most people spend their breaks binging and scrolling. Since we are off, we can focus our attention of things that we enjoy and less on things that we are required to. This makes paying attention more difficult because that muscle has atrophied. This is the biggest regression I see in my students, most likely from the drastic increase in screen time. You can see my blog here for more information on what screen time does to the brain.
Not only is everyone sleep walking, they simply do not want to attend to anything. This is a predictable behavior pattern, one that requires patience. Remember, it is a matter of reaching baseline before you can make progress. So simply expect to repeat yourself… repeatedly… in all your sessions.
Behavior: If you work with students who have behaviors that need to be managed, breaks can be a nightmare. Whatever consistency you developed before the break is often lost. It is not a matter of starting from the beginning but managing your expectations accordingly. Be patient with your directives.
I have one student that will enter the speech room, undoubtedly walk to the back corner and throw himself on the floor. Or perhaps he will B line for the toy bin and ransack the room looking for Play Doh. Something I am sure he had all break, it’s in his nails, and probably his belly. We don’t give him that in school because he eats it or stashes it for another time, like a squirrel preparing for the winter.
So we will have to review why sitting and having quiet hands is a great idea because it will get you cars at the end of the session. We have been through this before. But it is repetition and positive reinforcement that maintains routines. If you know what to expect, then you can be patient with the process.
Progress graphs aren’t straight or wavy lines, they look like an S&P 500 stock, fluctuating up and down in a progressive trajectory. Be patient with the dips and stoic about the climbs. For better or worse, we may not get tomorrow what we got today, but we are always managing the methods of success for ourselves and our clients.