The mild days of spring will soon turn into the warmer months of summer. With school out, summertime presents challenges for many parents, but especially parents of kids with special needs, including children with autism. If you have an autistic child, the following are some ideas to help you and your child get the most out of the summer break.
Do Some Planning Ahead
As the summer begins, talk to your child about upcoming opportunities and changes. Encourage your child to ask questions and give them time to process what their summer might turn out to be like. Find out what activities your child might look forward to participating in and discuss possibilities and details of what might be expected.
Arrange a Daily Schedule
During the school year, your child is used to a predictable schedule. Without a routine in place to make up for this, the summer can seem unsettling to children with autism. So establish a summer timetable to provide some predictability and comfort. This schedule can be the gateway for your child to work toward achieving important goals, such as:
- Practicing and improving social skills, e.g., through play dates.
- Keeping up with academic work.
- Reducing TV and video game time.
- Participating in sports.
The Importance of Social Skills
Working on social skills is the biggest opportunity that a summer break can provide to children with autism. It can take many forms but should include fun activities such as swimming lessons, barbecues, picnics, walks in the woods, and vacation trips. If your child can handle a summer job, it can serve as a valuable new setting to enable the use of social skills.
Remember That It’s Your Summer Too
Without the regular routine of the school year, summer can add up to an extra burden to parents of an autistic child. Parents who cannot take the whole summer off must do their best to keep their special needs child occupied and happy. However, keep in mind that summer is for everyone to enjoy, so include some activities that are interesting to you, but that the rest of the family can also participate in – beach days, an outdoor concert or festival, a visit to a sculpture garden, a hike. Whatever your plans, don’t miss out on creating a few summer memories of your own.
Children With Autism: Some Useful Resources
Here are three links that you may find helpful.
- Autism Speaks: Stepping up to summertime fun!
- National Society for Autism: Big Red Safety Toolkit (to prevent wandering).
- Pathfinders for Autism: Summer camp – parent tips.
If You Need More Help
You don’t have to handle the summer all on your own. If you need some assistance, home healthcare organizations can take some of the burden off your shoulders. If you live in or near Columbia, SC, Caring Healthcare has many years of experience with caring for special needs children. So, give us a call today to see how we can help make this summer a special one for your autistic child.