School's Out For Summer!
Great! So now what? The summer can be a double edged sword for families who have a person with special needs. Changes in daily routine and even the weather can have a significant impact on people with sensitive systems. Here are some thoughts on how to approach summer
1) Structure- most people with autism do well within structured systems. This doesn't have to mean that every moment is organized for them but it should probably include rhythms and routines that add to predictability. That predictability will help everyone in the family feel less anxious about how time is spent over the summer. For example, going over the next day's events the night before can be a nice way to preview. This gives you a system for introducing new activities, vacations, or changes for other people in the home (sibling off to camp, grandparents visit)
2) Slow and Steady- summer feels short to us and we want to take advantage of the unique summer activities, but that doesn't have to mean rushing. Taking time to get acclimated to a new setting can make all the difference. This may mean doing a drive by the new camp before the first day or looking at photos on the Internet of the vacation spot you are heading to next week.
3) Pete and Repeat- don't try to reinvent the wheel all the time. Maybe Tuesday night is ice cream night. One week you check out the local shop, the next find one across town, the next you make your own and then repeat. Each ice cream event will have just enough similarity and difference to allow the experience to be meaningful.
4) Enjoy- don't forget that it is okay to enjoy yourself and involve your learner on spectrum. If they have never enjoyed gardening but it is your favorite thing, they can sit on a bench nearby with a radio or book and be exposed to the fact that you love gardening. Everything shouldn't be about their entertaining and enjoyment. The first reason is that outside of family, the rest of the world will not always cater to them in this way so it is important practice. The second reason is that just because you are a parent doesn't mean that you don't deserve to enjoy things too!
Here's to a safe and healthy summer for everyone!