Transitioning to Summer with Your Autistic Child
Transition can refer to different types of changes. For example: daily transitions from one activity to another; life transitions into adulthood; annual transitions from the end of a school year to the summer. There are strategies and techniques that you can use to help manage transitions on any scale. Learn how to deal with transitioning to summer challenges for your child and your family.
The Summer Transition Plan:
Before setting goals for the summer, think about your expectations
With Covid restrictions mostly lifted, will there be a family vacation? A road trip? A trip that involves getting on/off a plane? Family and friend visits and get-togethers? What about downtime for your child and the family? Will your child join summer day camps/programs or overnight camps? Would you like to learn new skills or to work on generalization or maintenance of skills already learned? What are your child’s interests (e.g. arts, sports, computer activities)? What do they like or dislike? Involve your child in the planning if possible. Set 2-3 goals, make a plan, and do not overwhelm yourself.
Anticipate your child’s strengths and the possible challenges
What are the usual challenges involved in the activities you plan to do? Examples include a change in environment, expectations, or routine, activity tolerance, social tolerance and demands, and sensory overload. How can your child’s strengths be used to overcome these situations?
Use or adapt the tools that work for your child
Check your ‘toolbox’- what works for your child? Consider a visual schedule, calendar, checklist, social stories, timer, or mobile apps. Use or adapt these tools for the summer activities. Every child is different (e.g. a highly anxious child may use the tools differently). Consult your autism service provider for an individualized approach for your child.
Consider internal and external motivation
What motivates your child? What do they like? They may need an external motivator such as a reward or token system (what works for them) to increase successes in new activities and unfamiliar environments.
Rehearse new activities and expose them to new things
Will your child be joining a camp in a new environment? Will they be going to the airport?
Use social stories and show pictures of the new environment. If possible, drive to the place and show them what to expect. Practice what they may do ahead of time. Involve your child’s behaviour interventionists (BIs) to help.
Prepare by packing your child’s backpack
Before the event or activities, pack your child’s backpack with tools like: social stories, visual schedule, rewards/token system, their favourite item/stuffy and snacks, your child’s profile, community card, or letter for the airport
Have a “plan b” for a way out and make sure it can consistently be implemented by all involved.
We hope this list helps you in transitioning to summer! Have a great summer!