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Summer Proofing for Special Needs Kids

by C. Finkbeiner | June 24th, 2015 | Elementary, Special Needs

cute boy (400x400)Summer vacation is the 8 weeks out of the year that kids look forward to most. No school busses to catch or tests to take, and all of the warm weather and lazy days ahead for doing nothing. For most kids the break from school is a welcomed and relaxing time. But for kids with special needs, the lack of strict routine during vacation can sometimes cause more harm than good.

Children with special needs, especially those with emotional and/or learning disorders, can be negatively affected by a major change in their daily and weekly routines. Extended periods away from familiar places and people can upset kids to the point of experiencing feelings of loneliness or even abandonment.

As a parent or caregiver, there are things that you can do to soften the blow of introducing the change in the agenda to your special needs child.

Explain that it’s only temporary. They will get to see their friends and teachers again. Arrange playdates with their favorite friends throughout the summer. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy. A picnic in the backyard or a trip to the local park will suffice. The focus is the quality of time that the kids will have together, not the quantity of kids or amount of dates.

Look into group based activities that are free or cheap in your area. Churches will often hold vacation bible studies which are low cost and inclusive of children of all religious backgrounds. Groups like these open your child’s exposure to new friends, new cultures and experiences, and will intrigue them to continue learning every day.

If your child is gifted, you may want to research educational or skill based camps in your city. You can enroll your child in classes to enrich their learning by studying everything from building robots to baking cookies. Community colleges and libraries also occasionally have classes focused for children. If your child is learning delayed, consider hiring a tutor to spend time studying with your child a few days a week.

Mimic lunch schedules, portion sizes and food selection during weekdays to imitate school schedule. If you are a lunch-packer, this will be very easy to accomplish. If you buy lunch at school, try to copy the menu from a typical month to keep your child on single portions and familiar foods. Limit snacking throughout the day by following snack schedules as well.

Don’t forget recess! After lunch, give your child ample time and space to burn some calories and boredom away. Take part by playing a physical game like kickball, freeze tag, or whatever physical game you and your child are both able to play equally. This will also help tire them out for early evening bedtimes.

Give your child a special chore or activity to look forward to every day. Preferably something that they can continue doing into the coming school year. When they have mastered their chore, add on another for challenge and continued skill development.

Make this summer special!

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