Summer can be a very challenging time for children with autism spectrum disorder, much more so than for other children. Children with ASD need structure and routine in their lives, or they can experience a resurgence in undesirable behaviors. Summer breaks from school can be disruptive to their progress with social skills. In our own work in children’s behavioral health, we constantly strive to offer summer activities, such as our Summer Therapeutic Activities Program, or T-Camp, which provides an active and supportive environment during the summer.
However, many options exist for parents of a child with ASD that can keep their child happy and prevent them from becoming too disruptive. Our Elwyn team has listed some tips you may be able to follow.
Promoting Children’s Behavioral Health Among Children with ASD in the Summer
- Sign Up for ESY Classes
Many schools offer Extended School Year (ESY) programs, which may be available to your student. ESY classes are often the best option, since classes preserve their routine and ensure they maintain their academic and social abilities over the summer. Contact your district to learn about your options.
- Try to Replace the School Structure
If one parent is home during the summer, or at-home child care is available – a good option is to try to replicate their school structure and schedule. Home-based schooling can also supplement ESY programs to maintain their schedule.
- Go to The Zoo
While some forms of summer recreation may be too challenging or over-stimulating for children with ASD, zoos are often an exception. Studies have shown that interacting with animals can increase the social skills of a child with ASD. You can also try to find a hands-on zoo, like a petting zoo. With either option, if possible, make it a weekly event, on the same day and time.
- Find A Social Skills or ASD Peer Group
In the event other children with autism live in your area, arrange regular “play dates.” Besides helping you connect with parents facing similar challenges, these get-togethers can be a welcome way to help your child practice his/her social skills.
- Send Them to A Summer Camp
Summer camps – particularly those that specialize in autism spectrum disorders like our own T-Camp – can be excellent for creating new structures and routines for a child with autism over the summer. The children who attend T-Camp get to have as close to a typical camp experience as possible, and gain confidence through their participation.
Your Children’s Behavioral Health Is Our Concern
Elwyn offers a wide range of children’s behavioral health summer programs specifically for children with autism in Pennsylvania. For more information, please check our Allentown schedule of events for 2017!