SUMMER ACTIVITIES AND BENEFITS
Summertime can be a great opportunity for children and families. Great weather and no school can be a time to explore fun activities and learn new hobbies. Summer can also be a time of challenge; regression of skills and knowledge learnt in school. For families with special needs the challenges can be greatly magnified. Challenges can also come with a learning curve. Children can learn new kinds of independence and focus on skills that are lagging. Here is a short list of new skills families can work on during the summer.
Summertime is great time for community gathering. Many communities will have group activities such as barbecues, hikes or carnivals. Social gatherings although hard for families with special needs present a great time to teach social skills. Local parks and public swimming pools can also be building blocks for a foundation in mastering socially appropriate behaviors. Take advantage of the community time. Teach your child to get accustomed to spending time with strangers in a fun, safe and sensory friendly environment.
Shutting off video games and movies
Getting a child off their electronic devices during the winter may seem impossible. Going outside offers a fresh new set of skills. Hiking and swimming can be beneficial both emotionally and physically. Petting zoos, horseback riding and interactions with animals also have unique benefits for children, such as communication and companionship. Appreciating activities other than electronics tend to spill over into the winter.
Generalizing ABA at home
During the school year when a child attends school or daycare parents can have difficulty generalizing ABA in the home. Children may be tired after a full day in school. In the summer a parent has more time and flexibility to implement a behavior plan in the home or other setting than the school or daycare.
A great benefit of the summer is a chance to increase physical activity and exercise. Exercise benefits every child, but there may be additional perks for children with ASD. Aerobic exercise can greatly reduce self stimulating behaviors and increase attention. Activities that require working with their hands, such as playing ball can benefit fine motor skills. However there are certain precautions which need to be adhered to as well. Children with ASD can relate to their environment differently than other children. For instance loud noise of a lawn mower or a truck passing by can be disorienting and can be quite startling. In a non-sensory environment there can be an uptick of behaviors.