Either you’re in the middle of summer, at the start, or thinking ahead, I bet you’re trying to think of ways to make this summer a fun and relaxing for everyone: you, your child on the autism spectrum, and your family.
At first glance, it seems like a lot to balance and compromise, but I have some ideas for you to consider for you to implement this summer.
Summer is prime time for relaxation...sometimes.
If you are like some families, summertime is a series of hits and misses for relaxation and fun, especially when it comes to the unstructured nature of it being summer for your child on the spectrum.
But ultimately, each family has their own style based on figuring out what works for them.
These are some suggestions for you to embed in your day to day and to plan ahead to further ensure summer fun and relaxation for all.
I find this to also be helpful for families hoping to find successful leisure activities for their child on the spectrum.
For some autistic individuals, leisure and unstructured periods of time can be challenging.
Related reading: Summer 1 blog article
Planning ahead, especially for events, vacations, and visits, can be helpful in the long run for your child on the spectrum and your family.
Experiencing transitions and unexpected events can be particularly difficult for individuals on the autism spectrum.
As you know with your child, preparing them for an upcoming activity can support an easier transition for them and everyone.
Planning ahead can help you better prepare your child for these upcoming activities and transitions as well as support you as a very busy caregiver.
When you are planning ahead, I would encourage you to even think about the transition to the start of the school year.
Furthermore, write these plans down. In the Summer 1 blog article here, I share some ways you can map out the summer and create a Visual Schedule for your child.
A fun bonus with using the Visual Schedule, is that when you customize it for your child, you can include special times and routines for summertime fun.
Related reading: Summer 2 blog article
In the blog post above, I share a few suggestions to support your autistic child in trying new things this summer in a way that matches their needs.
A fun and amazing part of the summer is doing something new and growing from that experience.
An example of trying new things in a fun and creative way is that family I work with likes to try a new hobby together - they decide in the spring (sometimes the winter if it’s a big change) and coordinate schedules to make it happen.
This is also a great way for parents, caregivers, and family members to try new things themselves.
And I encourage you too! You should try new things too.
Summer is a great time to take a break, what with school being on a literal break, it’s the perfect time to slow down and relax.
And I bet your child is excited about this break.
They probably want to spend time doing things they love to do.
Even if what they want to do is spend extended time on their tech devices with all kinds of screen time - I encourage you not to feel guilty about this.
While they are pursuing their breaks, you should take one for yourself too!
Related reading: Figuring out the support you need
The breaking point though that many families report to me is that these extended, unstructured periods of time using screens can be disruptive and cause issues at home.
To this, I would also suggest using the Visual Schedule to embed distinct sections of time that are devoted to screen time and stay consistent with this type of boundary.
Use a timer (that you may have to control) that they can see the time count down.
Designate a space in the house where the iPad stays.
Establish consistent routines that your child can access their tablet.
I also have a list of ways you can support positive technology experiences at home.
Related reading: Tech device.