Does the start of summer make you want to hide under your hat?
Changes in routine can often present difficulties for those with ASD – even the changes that others wold see as fun or easy to adjust to, like the end of the school year.
Changes of Routine
Before the duplicate set of text books even got returned to the school, summer was upon me!
Make no mistake … summer for kids with ASD isn’t all filled with fun like they portray in the movies. Summer … in all its routine-changing, activity-laden, and worry-filled glory … adds another dimension for parents of kids with ASD!
Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely relief in not having to fight the homework battle every day, call the school for assignment updates, disciplinary meetings, or to spend hours checking on the whereabouts of the unholy gym uniform! It’s a respite we need as parents of kids with ASD, but summer break comes at a cost!
There are a whole new set of issues that brew in our minds creating worry during the summer.
- Is my child losing ground by not being in the education routine?
- Is my child safe outside to play?
- Is my child able to play with friends or does he stand on the sideline even when there are other kids to play with?
- Can I get my child to participate in swim lessons, ride a bike, or put on roller blades?
These thoughts often get reduced to those worrisome questions we as parents of kids with ASD ask ourselves all year long… (Click here to read more about Limitations Redefined.)
”Am I doing enough?” or “How do I get him to participate in that?” “How do I make it easier?” The relief we have gained from not having to deal with the rigors of school quickly gets absorbed by a new variety of other concerns.
The New School Year
On top of that, we know that come fall, we will have to start over with a new teacher, new routine and new everything else! (Click here to read more about how Creating a Routine Around Homework Can Help to Bring Calm.) It’s especially hard if our child is of the age where he or she might be making a significant change like leaving grade school for Junior High, or graduating and moving to high school.
Many a mom has spent the latter part of the summer reaching out to the school, making arrangements for special meetings, tours of the building, and introductions to help put their child at ease once the school gets under way in earnest. It can feel like anything BUT a vacation.
As much as I was grateful for the summer break in the routine, I felt like I paid the price by having to start from scratch again in the fall to re-establish the routine we had developed by the end of the previous school year.
The New Routine
When your child is on the spectrum, this involves so much more than just bedtime. It’s the hygiene routine, the clothes that are being worn, the foods that are being eaten. How much screen time, how much outdoor time, how much family time…
One strategy is to participate in summer school, thus keeping some of the routine of learning intact through most of the summer. That helped me to minimize the worst of the stubborn refusal to participate in educational activities – well, at least it took the edge off because my sons weren’t out of school for 8-10 weeks at a time, but only 2-3 weeks.
During the summer there is also the inevitable battle over screen time. How much is enough, and how do I get my computer-loving son outside to engage with other children.
Never having forged strong friendships in school, the concept of “playing with friends” was not in his social vocabulary. (Click here to read more about Chronic Loneliness Syndrome.)
“When you have a child with ASD, the freedom that summer affords many families is colored by a different set of concerns that may have played second fiddle to school during the school year.”
Even playing with neighborhood children was not a very successful endeavor. He would come in saying it was too hot, or he didn’t like the activity the kids were engaged in, or he wanted to be where it was quiet. When you have a child with ASD, the freedom that summer affords many families is colored by a different set of concerns that may have played second fiddle to school during the school year.
And it leaves many parents of kids with ASD asking … Isn’t there a better way?