Summer activities with a child on the autism spectrum can become something of a wash out, something many families dread. But who wants to spend an entire six week school holiday stuck in the house fearful of going out.
All children need entertaining, boredom is something that never goes down well in anyone’s book and although I’ve done the whole staying In doors thing In the hope it saves me from the public meltdown, I’ve moved on from this, there really is no point in hiding away and not dealing with situations head on.
Summer is much harder when siblings are involved, there’s places they want to go, ones you know the child with Aspergers just can’t cope with. But as a parent you want your children to be able to experience the things they want to, building a set of awesome memories throughout the way.But as a parent you don’t want any of your children distressed and unhappy.
I am lucky in the fact that I can sometimes leave little man with his father while taking the other two children out for the day and vis versa but there are times I don’t have this option and therefore need to weigh up the pros and cons.
Below I have included some ideas that may help you have a reasonably good school summer holidays, but remember every child is different and what may work for some won’t work for others.
1) Many children on the spectrum are not great with overly hot temperatures so try to visit local parks etc in the late afternoon early evening. This way all the children can enjoy the trip to the park.
2) Avoid massive crowds unless you are visiting a facility that caters for your child’s needs. Most theme parks do a wristband that means your can skip the queues and avoid sensory overload and meltdowns.
3) Cinemas are now doing autism friendly screenings which means all children can see the latest film release and no one is left disappointed this summer.
4) Try to have a least one day out where the activities are focused around your child’s special interests. My son likes transport so a visit to the transport museum always goes down well. If siblings are attending spilt the day into two doing something they want to do first (I say first as yes your child is likely to ask when are we leaving and going to the transport museum for example, but if they go to the transport museum first they have nothing left to look forward to and may not cooperate as liked.
5) To avoid boredom on the days your not going out, set up a schedule of fun activities in the garden. All children can get involved. Have some sensory play in the sandpit, burn some energy on the trampoline and why not have some fun sensory play in the paddling pool. This is perfect as your child has the option of coming inside when it all gets to much and other children can continue to play and have fun.
6) If like mine, your child is a fussy eater and wont eat anything that is A) packed in a cool bag and B) isn’t hot, than picnics are not really a suitable family activity. Instead of having children miss out completely why not opt for a disposable barbecue instead. This way the children get the experience of eating outside in the sunshine without any tears.
7) If going out for the day to the park or beach a potable pop up sun tent is a must. These can be brought at a reasonably good price and is a haven for the child who becomes overly sensitive to the heat.
8) As much as I love to do things on a whim I no longer get this option. Checkout what’s happening this summer, plan a scudule and try to stick to it. This way your child knows what activities and visits/days out are happening on each day.
9) The above is essential when going on holiday. This is likely easier in places like holiday camps etc as you can adapte there scudule to suit that of your own and your children can easily express what activities interest them.
10) Another great thing about holiday camps is the supervised activities meaning your other children can still go of and have fun even if the activities are not to the child on the spectrums liking.
11) If going on long car/train journeys over the summer break, bring something to entertain your child, an iPod, iPad, potable DVD player, book or handheld game console (a must for all children).
12) Try to keep bedtime routines the same (as much as possible). This avoids problems when the holidays come to an end and your child returns to school.
13) Talk your Aspergers child through any activities planed for the summer, especially new ones. Try to do this well in advance. Show your children pictures of the places you plan to visit or check it out on there website if they have one.
14) Give your child choices, letting them feel they have a certain amount of control over planed activities. Many children with Aspergers need to feel a certain amount of control.
15) Don’t overload your child, ensure there are free days at home where your child can relax even if the day is scheduled.
16) If going on holiday take your child’s blanket and pillow to make sleeping easier.
17) Expect difficult days and try your best to prepare for them. Lack of routine will always make things harder for the child with Aspergers Syndrome.
18) Educational play is a good way of keeping your youngsters brain busy during the summer. This is great for the child who doesn’t like homework as they tend to learn without even knowing it.
19) Use the summer months as a time to help your child build on their independence skills.
20) When a parent becomes stressed this has an undesirable effect on the child with Aspergers. If your finding the summer months difficult try to talk to other parents in the same situation. There are many online support groups and forums for parents of children with autism.