Notice that the title contains “and”, not “for”. If summer were “for” the child, it would include much more structure and therapy time, especially if that is what they need. I mean, neuro-typical kids sometimes have to go to summer school, right? And, for the uninitiated, many ASD patients enjoy schedules and designated times for therapy, tutoring, and even play. Summertime can be a pain in their already pained butt.
What are the choices? Camps. Grandma asks why he’s not going to camp. Day camp would seem a more likely choice, depending on the child’s age and social abilities. Usually these are run by local behavioral therapists and cost from $50 – $200 for a full day. The good news is that such professionals know what to expect and how to help the children to grow. A parent’s priorities, then, would include: how experienced and trained the staff are, how they are supervised, the staff / camper ratio, the level of function of the children in each “bunk”, whether they understand / allow special diets, medicines, supplements, and what is done about safety.
For an older and less disruptive child, there are overnight camps, too. These are not easy to locate, some are fairly pricey, and a parent cannot be sure that the child will like/adapt/rebel/etc. when offered such an experience. Let’s face it, any child is capable of a “hello mudda hello fadda” letter. Seriously, though, here is a link to a comprehensive listing of sites.
For the younger or home-based child, any experienced parent knows that there needs to be a schedule of activities throughout the summertime.
WARNING – do not allow preferred activities to become the babysitter, especially if there are obsessive-compulsive tendencies in the child.
At the earliest sign that you cannot transition to another activity, time limitations should be set, so that September will not get off on the wrong foot. Outdoor activities are a must. Parents – give the sunscreen a break for 1/2 hour or so and let the kids soak up the sun. This is a fine time to try out hippotherapy or to learn to swim, perhaps. For the chlorine-sensitive, DermaSwim Pro gets good reviews from our patients.
If your family is planning to travel, it will require planning on the parents’ part to help prepare the child for the plane ride, the new environment, the strangers, the relatives, (and the strange relatives). Social stories are a good way to help in this matter. The foods that may need to be brought along, plus all of the medications and supplements need to be accounted for. And don’t forget the needs of the siblings. They are usually so good in helping their brothers and sisters but it’s their summer vacation, too.
Another summer experience that requires attention is when relatives come to visit. Again, this can be a very trying time for everyone. The expectations of the visitors should be established, especially if there are other youngsters who will be coming along. Visiting relatives… plenty of anxiety to go around.
Finally, for those brave readers out there, I invite your reply about some of your experiences or to offer some personal advice. C’mon… somebody… Yo…