Summer is the time when most kids look forward to playing outside, staying up later, going to summer camp and having care free days at home. Unfortunately, for kids with ASD, the transition can be difficult. Summer causes a disruption of the schedule and structure that school provided over the past 10 months and this disruption can trigger anxiety and outbursts.
All kids are different, but here are a few tips that may help ease the transition into summer:
Make a daily schedule
Children on the Autism spectrum thrive on routines and like to know what is happening next. Make your child aware of the changes in their schedule that will occur during the summer. Write down your daily schedule, listing the start and end times, and stick to the plan as close as you can. You might also let him place stickers on the schedule to help him understand what will happen next. Discussing changes in the routine as early as possible may help your child to prepare for what’s to come and minimize the amount of stress the disruption causes.
Plan for more time than you need
As we mentioned, sticking to a schedule is important to help your child feel prepared and secure. In an effort to avoid disruptions to the schedule, be sure to add more time to include more time than necessary for each task in the schedule. Doing so will ensure your child has plenty of time to complete each item and sidestep the concern that builds when she feels rushed.
Use visual examples
Social stories help your child explore and understand social concepts in a visual format. Create a social story and explain the situations that may occur this summer. For example, if you are traveling you can create a social story that features the people and places he may encounter during the trip.
Set up play dates
Play dates with peers are a critical to social development. Just as reading skills can diminish if students don’t practice over the summer, the same is true for social skills. Reach out to the parents of your child’s classmates and plan some get-togethers.
Prepare for the change of seasons
Warmer temperatures signal more daylight hours and fun summer activities. Kids with autism may struggle to adjust to the increase of sun and heat. Packing away your child’s winter clothes will help her stay cool and choose appropriate lightweight clothing to stay cool.
It’s no secret that over exposure to the sun can cause sunburns and increase the risk of skin cancer. Kids with ASD can be hesitant to use sunscreen due to increased sensitivity. Try engaging her in a favorite activity or watching a favorite video to help distract her from the sunscreen application.
Don’t forget to have fun! With a little extra effort and advanced planning, summer can be a magical time for you, your child and the rest of your family!