Prepping for summer with Lisa Watson

  • Lisa Watson, Interior Regional Coordinator and mom.


    “Lately, I’ve found that my son has become so entrenched in the routines that we have created, it can sometimes backfire on me,” Lisa remarks. Since her son’s school keeps track of the days there are left in the school year, Lisa has gotten into the habit of counting down the days until summer vacation is over. “Brett has difficulty with time and number of days,” she adds.

    Living in the sunny Okanagan, as the AutismBC Regional Coordinator for the Interior, and mom, Lisa Watson, has no shortage of favourite outdoor activities to do with her son. Swimming, hiking and biking all factor into Brett’s fun summer schedule. Summer is understandably difficult for some children with autism, who often thrive with set schedules. “He likes going to school, and it’s a long summer,” Lisa affirms. Even trying to break out of the habit of wearing the warmer clothing of spring, such coats and long pants, can be a struggle. However, she does have poignant advice on dealing with the summer transition for other parents with kids on the spectrum.

    Summer, for many, is a time for vacations out of town or simply having some leisure time at home. Lisa recounts the time she was at Disneyland with her family, saying that, “it was a nightmare, two roller coasters broke while we were on them.” Lisa, winner of the 2019 Community Impact Awards for the Interior, suggests for other parents who might be vacationing away that snacks, toys and remembering to pack chargers might help through a potentially stressful situation. Another suggestion is to ask the venue if they have any discounts, or express passes to keep everyone occupied as opposed to spending time standing in long lines.

    These days, Lisa and her family prefer less stressful stay-cations in the Interior. Local inclusive and autism-friendly camps provide structured recreation time and much needed respite for families, but Lisa notes that, “For families that work full time, the half day camps can provide challenges as families often need all day care. Most summer camps provide good care for children on the spectrum, however, there’s always some amount of stress when it comes to getting adequate care for unique needs.” Other parents in Lisa’s community have also talked about long waitlists, late registrations, and hidden costs, especially when 1:1 is required.

    So, what about overnight camps? Lisa adds, “Overnight camps can be tough for some kids. Food is often the biggest challenge, as they might not like what’s on the menu.” Lisa’s advice: “If you know that food can be a challenge for your child, speak to the camp leader or organization running to camp prior to registering. Families can often make arrangements to send preferred foods and snacks but don’t leave it until the day of camp drop off.”

    If summer is presenting challenges for your family, join Lisa on July 22nd from 7 – 8 PM when she hosts a Live Facebook Chat. Follow us on Facebook.