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Challenge: Kids with Special Needs

Four tips to help your special needs child transition into a summer schedule

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The school year is ending, which for me as a special needs mom is a nightmare.

The routine we have worked on perfecting for 10 months will be changing drastically for two months.

Here are my top four tips that have been vital to our son's success when transitioning to a summer schedule.

1. Plan ahead

Planning your child’s summer as far ahead of time can ease the transition when the school year ends.

I know this is sometimes difficult because if your child receives Extended School Year services (ESY) many school districts will often know the dates while location/teachers are determined later into the school year.

Planning any activities or vacations ahead of time will help ensure you have time to prepare your child for those changes in their day-to-day routines.

2. Front load

Front loading my son helps him be prepared for the upcoming changes he will be experiencing.

We use social stories with real-world photos to show him that school is over, and summer is starting. We have even made him a social story in video form because he learns so much visually.

Front-loading helps ease any transition especially if it is a major change in his routine.

3. Stick to a routine as best as possible

I will be honest filling my son’s summer schedule is not easy.

As a special needs mom each year the end of school consumes me with worry about having to fill the summer days productively for my son.

Then, add in the intense pressure of maintaining his current skills, and the fear of regression, and getting a solid summer routine established has never been easy.

The list of adequate activity options or camps is extremely limited and costly for children who need extra support to succeed in those programs.

We utilize our in-home therapy team during the summer, which helps keep routines while maintaining valuable skills.

4. Focus on visuals

Keeping a visually rich environment helps ease the unpredictability of each day’s routine.

Visuals have been vital to my son’s success at home, especially with transitions. We use all sorts of visuals from PECs to newer technology using apps like Choiceworks or Goally.

Keeping the level of predictability consistent and allowing my son to make choices helps each day run smoothly during summer when every day is a little bit different.

Every year as the school year ends my anxiety builds. Transitions are hard but, utilizing the four tips above have really helped my son succeed over the last two years.

I hope they give you a starting point and ease the upcoming transition into summer for your child.

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