Summer is a few short weeks away! The joy of completing the school year also brings the challenges associated with unscheduled days, unpredictable new environments, and the unexpected elements of the season.
Here are seven helpful tips for planning your family’s summer that we hope will help create more fun and reduce stress:
1. Maintain Some Structure
Try to maintain your child’s typical eating and sleeping schedule as much as possible. It’s not easy to stick to a schedule during summer, especially as this is a time when you want to let go a bit and relax. If you can maintain the basic structure of your child’s routine with eating, sleeping, and some routine in the day, you are less likely to have an overwhelmed or anxious child.
2. Be Clear on Your Goals
You may want to create opportunities for your child to build social skills. Summer is a great time to enroll your child in social skills programs where they can participate in small-group activities and learn how to navigate relationships while receiving one-to-one support.
3. Prepare in Advance
Whenever possible, it can be helpful to familiarize your child ahead of time with the destination by using photographs, videos, etc. If your child has never flown or stayed in a hotel before, practicing these on a small scale can be helpful. Some airlines offer practice travel for families with autism. You may also want to visit a hotel room before an overnight stay.
4. Travel Safety
It‘s important to acquaint your family with your vacation details, such as where you‘ll be staying during your trip. If you are staying with family or renting an apartment or home, be sure to check that each door has a lock and that the perimeter of the house is secure. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with other parts of the property, such as areas that have access to water and other roads. Knowing these will help keep your child’s safety top of mind should they explore the area.
5. It Takes a Village
While vacationing or sunbathing with friends or family, welcome them to become part of your team. By sharing your concerns and requests for support, your community can be mindful and diligent with any possible safety or wandering risks. Helping others understand how they can best support you and your family, can make your experience more relaxed and enjoyable.
6. Get Support from Your Team
Remember to use what works for your child while planning your family’s activities. If you‘re working with an ABA provider, ask for assistance with goals that support a specific outing or trip.
7. Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Summer is the perfect time to maximize learning opportunities, access resources that may have been limited due to school schedules, and work on intensive programs that require a larger time commitment.
While that is all true, it’s still important to find time to have fun, enjoy the activities summer has to offer, and watch your child thrive!
Here are some additional resources to help make the summer season a success for the whole family:
· Autism Speaks: Traveling with Autism
· National Autism Society: Big Red Safety Toolkit – to prevent wandering
· Pathfinders for Autism: Parent Tips: Summer Camp