A summer of autism

School is out in 4 or 5 days and the truth is I’m scared. I don’t know for sure what the summer agenda is. As much as we love Gavin, and we do, we can only take so much Gavin at a time. My mother is a saint, you can ask anyone who knows her. She loved summer break and snow days. She loved having all 6 of us home at once.

However, she didn’t have autism to contend with and we do, possibly x3. My mother had endless energy and motivation and we have neither. I had a relatively safe neighborhood to grow up in and lots of nice kids to play with. We have the “relatively” safe neighborhood, save for a few ignorants who call my special needs kids “retards”. It’s going to be a long summer.

I do have some ideas to survive it this year. My wife and I are going to try to line up summer camps for Gavin. Not overnight but day camps. There is even funding available to pay the fees if you look around for it. These camps help with social integration and self esteem. Gavin went a few years ago and really liked it. We had problems with manipulation but nothing major. He had fun and we got a much needed break.

You can check with your local MRDD for information on camps and even funding if needed.

We also have plans for trips to the zoo. We are choosing a local zoo so we can make it a shorter trip in order to accommodate our kids needs. Fishing is also on the list as well as camping. These things are all relatively sensory friendly. We are also have bonfires this summer and cook out. Maybe teach them so fire safety at the same time. Sensory friendly pizza and movie night is also going to be a weekly thing if possible. All these things (with the possible exception of camps) are cost effective and sensory friendly ideas to help make it through the summer.

The one thing I do want to focus on this year is Lizze and I. It’s so important to take care of ourselves and our marriage. My goal is to have a date night each week. Even if it’s movies and Chinese. We have focused so strongly on our kids that we have forgotten to take care of ourselves. I can imagine that many of you are the same way. We get tunnel visioned into fighting for our kids that we lose track of our own wellbeing in the process. This is a well intentioned mistake because if we don’t take care of ourselves who will take care of our kids.

Summer vacation (which never really seems like a vacation to me) is a very stressful times for specials needs parents. If we put our heads together we can come up with and share ideas for making it a more fun, less stress and possibly even (dare I say it) enjoyable summer.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on my ideas and even share some of your own. Your ideas may make a world of difference to a special needs (or really any) parent that is dreading the coming summer.

LT

Thank you for sharing our lives. LT

1 comment

    • Leah on May 26, 2010 at 7:01 pm
    • Reply

    I think the day camp is a great idea for Gavin, especially when he enjoys it and it gives you guys a break. I'm thinking of having my daughter take dance classes this year. She loves dancing and maybe it'll help expend some of the excessive energy she has. I also want her to take swimming lessons but I'm not sure how well she'll handle that. A trip to the zoo would be fun but the nearest one is about a four hour drive, not including traffic, and that's asking a bit much of her. Camping would also be fun except that she is absolutely terrified of all bugs (even butterflies).

    There are several parks nearby so I'm sure we'll spend plenty of time at them. We'll be spending time getting her ready for school too. She wasn't able to start last year because her birthday was too late in the school year. I think most kids would hate the idea of spending the summer doing schoolwork but she's really excited about it. She loves art so we spend a lot of time coloring and cutting out pictures. She really likes those foam sheets and cutouts you glue together to make pictures with. She's mostly sensory seeking so pretty much anything that will let her get her hands dirty is fun for her. So there will be a lot of baking, playing in the dirt, and finger painting. The children's museum here (which is just a giant play house) is cheap to go to and will keep her entertained for an entire day. We'll probably take a trip to the beach too. Even if she won't get near the water, she thinks the foam is soap, she'll enjoy playing in the sand.

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