For most families, summer is a much-welcomed break. They plan vacations and may alter their schedules by staying up late or sleeping in. It’s time to relax and have some fun! Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Summer break can be a source of anxiety for many special needs families, because it means a change in routine, which is difficult for many children with special needs.
Keep what you can the same
Because going to school is a major part of a child’s day, many routines and activities just can’t be kept the same. Despite that, though, there are things that can be.
The best place to start is with the morning and night routines. Keeping the same morning and night routine adds a sense of security. Have your child go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. If you use checklists of tasks they need to do to get ready each morning and get ready for bed each night, continue to use them. If the checklists include activities from a school routine such as getting on the bus, remove them to avoid frustration and anxiety.
Special needs parents weigh in
Local special needs parents differ on their approach to summer routines. One mom, Jill Brandenburg, noted they don’t keep a routine which means there aren’t expectations. That is kind of how it is in my house as well, and it works for us, but for many that isn’t the case.
Another mom, Sarah Smith, said they must have a routine or major meltdowns will occur. “We continue the same routine that we do for school throughout the summer. It’s harder to adjust to the school year if we break that routine during the summer,” she said.
Lizabeth Kleman said they use their school year routine all summer.
What works for one family/child may not work for another. Sometimes it’s trial and error. If adjusting to the changes of summer is hard for your child, don’t be afraid to reach out. There are many special needs parents in the community who are ready and willing to help whether by sharing advice or just offering a listening ear. A great place to connect is with the “Special Needs Parent Support (Findlay, Ohio)” group on Facebook.