Every year I am more amazed at the elaborate plans parents make for their kids for the summer. I couldn’t wait for summer to come when my three boys were young so we could get away from a schedule and plan one day at a time. Sounds really out-dated doesn’t it?
But, parents of kids with special needs, especially on the autism spectrum, have a harder job in planning the transition from the routine of school to the open-ended time of summer. I just got a newsletter from Esther B. Hess, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and executive director of a multidisciplinary treatment facility in West Los Angeles, Center for the Developing Mind. I had attended one of her continuing education seminars and was impressed with her knowledge and class so wanted to pass on her tips for planning a summer schedule “of stability and certainty” for kids with special needs which includes checking out what is available from your school district for summer school, looking for camp programs that match your child’s strengths, if you plan to travel, staying in one place for a while, including new therapeutic programs, and scheduling regular play dates with typical peers.
I’ve watched as parents have executed some of these plans, signing up for weeks of sports camps when their child was strong in that area and admired by peers, or taking guitar lessons which didn’t fit into their schedule during the school year. Also, parents have taken advantage of a morning of a specialized intensive therapy program to build language or reading that again couldn’t have fit in their school-year schedule.
Thanks Dr. Hess for the great suggestions!