Summer is here and many of our children are home from school, or will be soon once summer school ends.
The transition from school to home can be difficult for autistic children. One of the things that can help is to create a visual summer schedule and calendar, and plan ahead with things your child can do while at home.
If your child is old enough and able, let him or her help with the planning, and include some of their favorite activities in their daily schedule or on their summer calendar. A well-balanced schedule that limits screen time and includes exercise and opportunities to practice social skills is ideal.
I am all for keeping it simple and affordable. Here are some of the things I like to do with my grandson and some other ideas…
- Eat breakfast outside. Even in our hot summers, early mornings are usually still cool enough to sit outside. We placed some bird feeders near our porch, and my grandson loves to watch the birds come and have their breakfast, too. If your child is old enough and able, have them help you prepare some of their favorite foods, carry some things outside, and/or set the table.
- Take an early morning trip to the pool or park. To make sure my grandson gets some exercise, we try to go to the park, or take a trip to the pool, shortly after breakfast while it’s still cool. We pack a snack and plenty of water and enjoy some good exercise. While at the park or pool, encourage interaction with other children, or, when possible, meet up with one of his friends from school once in a while.
- Prepare some activities at home around your child’s special interests. My grandson is into jigsaw puzzling, bird watching, and writing stories for his next book(s). Allow time for them to work independently on some of their favorite interests. It’s a great time for you to take a little break or get a few things done around the house, too.
- Read a book. If your child is young, try and read with your child and work on a worksheet that his/her teacher may have sent home with you. An older child may be able to read on his own. Being required to do a little “work” each day helps them to not completely forget about school, and can make the transition back to school later a little easier.
- Reward and positively reinforce. Having a “reward box” prepared ahead of time is a great way to reinforce good behavior. It could include some small games or toys, coloring books, action figures, stickers, sensory toys, a favorite healthy snack, or whatever you know your child will appreciate. The Dollar stories in the U.S. and Euro stores in Europe are great places to find cheap and simple “prizes”. My grandson loves to get $1 bills, so he can go shopping for his rewards himself.
- Plan some fun outings. Whether close to home or a vacation further away, mark these events on a calendar, and if needed prepare your child for what the outing or vacation time will be like. If you can, try to include a few “surprises” too, which is great practice to learn to adapt to unexpected changes in routine. Having these events, as well as the surprises, marked visually on a calendar, talking about them ahead of time, and if needed, writing a social story about what is to come, is a great way to prepare your child and will make summer a lot of fun!
Of course, each child is unique, and these are just some ideas and suggestions that can be adapted as needed. What does your child like to do during summer? And what preparations have you made to help his/her summer run as smoothly as possible for you and yours? Please share!