More summertime ideas for children with ASD

Summer can be a challenging time for any family with children. The months of June, July and August often become difficult for families who have special needs children.

Typically, children’s school days are very structured with predictable schedules. In Room 622, the school day includes a tight schedule that begins with breakfast and ends with a review of how the day went. If it was a good day, the children get their special rewards for the last activity of the day.

The daily schedule includes icons for academics, hygiene, lunch, sensory time, choice time and special programs.

The schedules are easily flexible to include special activities. All this is done with visual icons which tell the child what comes next. A bell is even used to help prepare them to move on to the next subject.

Try doing the same approach for children during the summer time too.

Creating a routine in the summer really helps. You can buy ready to go children’s schedule boards from place like Amazon.com or make your own. Remember to include stars or happy faces for when the child completes the requested activity correctly.

Use timers to let your son or daughter know when the next activity will be occurring. That will decrease anxiety.

Break a summer day up to include breakfast, hygiene, outdoor play, television time, creative play/sensory time, reading time, lunch, and even computer time.

A child’s schedule can include a surprise activity like going to the store, eating at a favorite restaurant or a visit to the movies. Have the child earn stars, happy faces or even check marks. They can learn to earn a preferred surprise activity. Sensory time is a great time to play with overinflated and under inflated balls, swing at the park or have water play in a pool.

Schedules can be used to improve communication and social interaction with your child. Limit computer and television time. If you do have computer time on your schedule, there are several free sites that are great for kids. The sites can be used as academic time on the daily schedule and they are fun. Try some of the following areas: www.internet4classrooms.com, http://pbskids.org/games, http://pbskids.org/reading, http://pbskids.org/math or even http://pbskids.org/science. Some fun storybook sites include http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/shortstories, http://www.starfall.com and Free Arthur Online Storybooks at http://kids.aol.com/KOL/2/koljrstories/archive/arthur-stories along with the teacher’s favorite, http://www.mightybook.com. Another great math site is http://jmathpage.com .

News-2-You is still one of the teacher’s favorites. It is a fabulous website, though not free. News-2-You is full of activities, current events and great information for all children, especially those with special needs. The website has several reading levels for children with wonderful interactive educational programs including Joey’s Locker. You can use it all week long as a great academic tool!

APPS too can make a huge difference for families traveling in the car. There are so many interactive sites to consider, depending on a child’s age. The Toca Boca Apps includes a huge variety of choices such as Toca Kitchen, Toca Doctor, Toca Hair Salon, Toca Monsters and Toca Birthday Party. Then there are lots of kids’ games with PBS Kids. Some educational Apps include a variety of Duck, Duck Moose Apps such as Park Math, Baa, Baa Black Sheep, Peek a Zoo, Farm School, Word Wagon. Other great Apps include Sesame Street, the Milo series, Injini, and Goodbeans.

So whatever your plans are during the summer, take time to include educational fun activities for your child too. Limit the computer time and try including nature activities in your day. This way, by the next school year your kids will have a step up on academics.

Pamela Gross Downing, a special education teacher, can be contacted at downpamg@aol.com.