I remember as a child being so excited for summer break. After spending several months waking up early, listening to teachers talk about topics that didn’t always interest me, and doing what seemed like endless amounts of homework assignments, it was finally time for a break. The best parts about summer were sleeping in, spending my days being lazy, and then meeting up with friends in the evening. I was really lucky if a family vacation was thrown into the mix too!
I enjoyed the freedom of summer, but for children and teens on the spectrum, this newfound freedom can be challenging. Here are some tips on making the transition from school to summertime more successful.
- Maintain a routine. Many kids with autism thrive on having a routine and being able to expect changes in their environment. Continue to wake up and eat meals around the same time and maintain some kind of structure throughout the summer months. The further removed from a routine that a child becomes, the harder it will be to get it back when school resumes.
- Make a summer calendar. Summer time can be filled with all sorts of new activities that don’t occur during other months. If you have a vacation, family reunion, festival, or any other special event, display it on a calendar so everyone is aware of the things going on that you will specifically be participating in. Having a little bit of a predictability is good for everyone!
- Always be prepared. Some activities take a long time to get ready for, and when you finally arrive you will want to make the most of it. Be prepared with a variety of preferred activities and snacks in case you need back-up if something doesn’t go quite according to plan.
- Check out local resources. Many local parks departments and libraries have activities specifically for children with special needs. They might have the perfect summer activities for your family.
- Don’t forget to have fun! Your kids work hard during the school year and deserve to have some fun over the summer. We all need a break from time to time and in the sun is the best place to do it! (Just don’t forget the sunscreen!)
by Margaret Hatteberg, BCBA Specialist for AHSS Far Northwest Region