Preparing for Summer for Children with ASD

June 7, 2016

Summer conjures up thoughts of warm, sunny days at the beach or playing with friends.  Summers also mean no schedule and hours on end of play and unstructured time.  For many of us this sounds luxurious and makes us yearn to be a kid again.  For children on the spectrum, however,  this may be torturous. Unfortunately, changing everyday routines, going to new places and meeting new people can be extremely nerve racking for children and teens with autism. They can become anxious, aggressive or shut down when put in these situations. I know this can be difficult for families, so here are some handy tips to help you prepare your autistic children and teens for these stressful transitions.

  • Evaluate the Abilities of your Child/Teen – Where is your child when it comes to his/her abilities to deal with sensory needs and response to stress. Focus on activities and events that your child can handle. Is there a special interest that could be explored further during the summer months? Is there a hobby that the teen wants to learn more about but doesn’t have the time during the school year to do so? Avoid situations that may set off your child such as amusement parks or sensory loaded areas.
  • Maintain a Routine – During the school year, a child has fairly strict routines that can give a sense of comfort for many children on the spectrum. Though your child may not be in school, maintaining daily routines will ease the transition into summer and be especially important when it is time to go back to school. Keep things as close to normal as possible.
  • Plan Ahead – Summers can be hot and humid. This can make even the most keeled of us irritated. If you are planning to go out into the sun and heat, plan ahead.  Know how long you will be at an event or activity. Bring supplies such as ice, water and snacks to keep everyone in a good mood. If your plans include a long ride or a trip on a plane, plan ahead as well.  Many airlines allow sensory children to board a plan to see what things will sound, feel and look like. An early boarding time may also be possible if you make the airline aware prior to your flight.
  • Bring Comfort – Even the most savvy world travelers like the comforts of home. Bring along comfort items like personal devices, headphones, toys, “lovies” or something that makes your child feel like they are safe.