It is hard to believe that this school year is almost over and that summer is just around the corner! Having a child with Autism Spectrum Disorders, also known as ASD, is a daily reminder that he depends on a routine. I am constantly aware of when our schedule might be changing. I do my best to prepare my family in advance for any changes that will affect them, and especially my child with Autism. It’s not always easy but, it is extremely important to maintain an environment in which my child can function to the best of his ability.
There are several things that I do in order to prepare my child with Autism before the end of the school year. It will depend upon circumstances, and order of importance, to how I set out to accomplish these tasks. Because I have developed good relations with the elementary school administration, I don’t really have to worry about rushing to request who I want for my child’s teacher next year. I can actually concentrate on the following:
- I have found if I start talking to my child who has Autism about what to expect when the school year is over, he is more likely to process and adjust to the future changes in his routine. By giving my child the chance to talk about how these changes will affect him, he will be able to respond to and better cope with the schedule changes when they actually begin to happen.
- It is very important to my child to be able to play with his friends while we are out during the summer break. It would be great if my child could have a really good friend, besides his brother. There are several boys that live on our one block long street that our boys can play with. These are the “friends” that my child spends most of his time with each day after school.
- Another thing I like to do is to plan a variety of day camps, family outings and movie nights so that my child has something to look forward to during the summer months. I keep an updated list of all scheduled activities on our refrigerator “activity calendar” to reference whenever he wants. This will reassure him that he won’t be sitting around the house with nothing to do.
- Positive reinforcement works well when initiating a change in my child’s schedule. Even though the consistency of his routine is important, it is also crucial for him to learn more flexibility when it comes to change. Helping him establish a coping mechanism to self-regulate, when things don’t go his way, is more valuable than the allowance he earns from chores.
The most important thing that I have learned from raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorders is that what works one day may not work the next. I have had to become very creative when working with my son and I quickly learned to “Think Differently”  when I would hit a wall in being able to connect with him. I have always had a “bag of tricks” in the shadows if and when something doesn’t go as planned. My philosophy is “never look back” and “the only direction left, is up!” when preparing my child for any opportunity to adapt to anything that alters his routine.