I know for many parents with children on the autism spectrum, the summer holidays can be a stressful time. This is due to all of the changes that take place, and a lack of routine resulting in heightened anxiety.
School is a set routine for most of the year (Christmas is always fun) and at the moment there is a slight change in routine at school due to Sports Day. But change is inevitable, it is part of life, and our children need to learn to adapt to this. However, we can help them.
Things that have helped us in the past, and help us today, during the six-week school holiday are visual timetables, holiday play schemes and days which can be spent at rest, what we like to call ‘choice’ days. So we use a variety of visual timetables at home. We have one the school kindly made which stretches from all the way into the first week back after the holidays. So Tom can see at a glance how many days of school are left and then how many days/weeks there are in the holidays.
I will also make a weekly planner with the main activity for each day. So, for example, Monday could be a picture of a playground, Tuesday holiday club and then Wednesday an image of a car to signal a trip out. We access Unique Kidz and Co holiday club for Tom, which he attends twice weekly. This helps him to socialise with others, have fun and also helps with the transition back to school after a long six-week break from school.
However, although we like structure, there is flexibility, and we allow days for ‘chilling out’ at home; this usually happens after a busy day at holiday club.
The key is planning, although not rigidly, but to have an overall idea of what will be happening. This will lessen anxieties and hopefully everyone will feel happier. There are lots of online programmes with images you can use or you can take your own photos. I have accessed Sandra Bloe’s website ASD Bright Ideas for visual timetables. Something to keep in mind is her Christmas Countdown calendar. Sandra’s website can be found here www.asdbrightideas.co.uk/shop/ as well as on Facebook.
I will be gathering all off my bits and pieces this week in order to start getting the visual timetables ready.