A successful summer break for a child with autism

Yeah! It’s finally here! Summer break is just around the corner; kids are counting down.  But to a child with autism, summer break can cause some real challenges.  Children with autism can become dysregulated when their typical school day routine disappears overnight. So as parents, what can we do?

I’ve scoured the interest and came up with some tips to help your child with autism survive and thrive over the summer.

  1. Use a calendar to label your typical days, weekends, vacations and holidays.  Children with autism are very visual.  Your child will know what to expect if the calendar is always visible.
  2. Try to continue a typical day, like his/her school day, as far as breakfast, lunch and break times.  This will give them a sense of control.
  3. Keep a routine for meals and sleep.
  4. Uphold normal house rules just as you did during the school year. I know most of us want to just be a bit more laid back over the summer, but if household chores start to pile up this can cause anxiety for your child.  It’s still important to keep things in order.
  5. Continue to reward good behavior.
  6. Schedule activities into your routine.  Children with autism can have a hard time socializing, so over the summer some kiddos can become hermits and never leave the house.  Try meetup groups or schedule play dates.
  7. Get outdoors and limit screen time.
  8. Maintain a behavior system.  Don’t get too relaxed; maintain the peace or the return to school will prove to be a hard task.
  9. Mimic home routines when you travel.
  10. Plan activities around your child’s strengths and interests.
  11. Talk about the change/break ahead of time.
  12. Continue to practice school work.
  13. Continue special therapies (OT, speech) outside of school.
  14. Utilize social stories.
  15. Use timers/alarms to maintain a routine.

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