Monthly Archives: May 2016

Make Sure Your Child Enjoys Summer Camp!

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With Summer break approaching many children will be transitioning from school to camp. Going to camp is a way for children to interact with their peers, experience new things, and create lasting memories, but for some children who have been diagnosed with autism, the transition can be a difficult one. They may need to adjust to new people and schedules and this can cause anxiety and fear, but it doesn’t have to.
Here are some ways To prepare your child on the spectrum for a fun and memorable experience at summer camp.
Once you figure out what camp is best for your child, visit the camp site so that your child on the spectrum is familiar with where they are going when you drop him/her off on the first day. Try to meet the camp counselors and any other staff members, if possible. Unfamiliar places and situations can cause unnecessary stress for a child who has been diagnosed with autism, so take pictures of the camp grounds, the schedule, and the faces of the people you meet; and use these tools to create a social story on what to expect. This will make your child’s transition much easier to handle on the first day of camp.
Another great way to prepare your child for camp is through visual aids. Use the pictures you took on your visit to the camp, the camp brochure, their website or any other visual information you can get your hands on, and talk to them about the cabins, the food, what activities they will be involved in, etc. so that you can help set their expectations and give them a feel for what camp will be like when they go.
Involve your child on the spectrum in planning their day at camp. Have them pack their backpack for the day, discuss with them what the weather will be like, what activities they want to do and what they can expect from the day. If they are playing sports, have them pack their sports clothes and shoes. If it’s a water day, work with them on packing their bathing suit. Also remember that sometimes a new activity sounds like fun, but if it’s the first time your child who has been diagnosed with autism is participating in that activity, prepare them for what they should expect and/or practice this activity with them at home, in the park or wherever you have access to the items you need.
Throughout the whole process of planning to go to camp, and even after your child with special needs has started camp, continue to set their expectations. Be sure your child knows what they can expect, not only from the camp and the people/peers at the camp, but from you. Let them know where you will drop them off and where you will pick them up, the time you will get there, etc. This way you decrease anxiety at the start and end of the day.
Go over each day of camp with your child on the spectrum when they get home. By doing this, you allow them to process their day, tell you stories, and create special memories. Many camps also take pictures of their campers throughout the summer and either post these pictures or e-mail them to the parents. Take these pictures and create an album or a book to share with your child, so that they remember their summer experiences and so that you can use this book next summer when it’s time for your child to go back to camp.
Summer camp can be an incredible learning and growing experience for a child and with a little preparation, communication, and setting expectations, your child that has been diagnosed with autism, can have an enjoyable summer, meet new friends, experience new activities and create memories that last a lifetime.

How To Build Long Lasting Friendships

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We all want the best for our children. We want them to grow up surrounded by friends, always happy and having a good time. For some, building friendships is easy, but for many children who have been diagnosed with autism making friends can be difficult. Children who have been diagnosed with autism may struggle with making friends and maintaining relationships. Here are some helpful ways for them to build friendships and improving social skills.
Remember that friendships are built from shared interests, so help your child get involved in community sports, art programs, and special events. These activities are wonderful ways to meet new people and engage in structured events with peers. Also it would be a good idea to look into specialty camps and classes geared towards your child’s special needs. Reach out to professionals and support groups for information and recommendations.
Role playing different skills with your child will also help them get used to socializing. Work on specific aspects of social interactions. For example, if you see that your child is standing to close to peers when speaking to them, teach them about personal space. If you notice your child asking the same questions over and over, practice communication skills. By working with your child on these skills at home, he/she will learn to improve on social skills and apply these skills when interacting with others.
It is also a good idea to provide examples of both good and bad social interactions while reading a book or watching TV/movies. It helps to point out how someone is helping others or using kind words when friends are talking to them. It’s also important to point out when a character is being harmful or hurtful to someone. One way to point out examples of unfriendly behavior is to focus your child’s attention on situations where a character is doing something unkind to another person and explain to them why that particular behavior is considered unfriendly. Then teach them the correct way to act in order to be a better friend.
Modeling good behavior and demonstrating kindness is also very important. Your children follows your example, so whether you are at the store, talking to a neighbor or interacting with a stranger, point out when they do something thoughtful and let your child know how it makes you feel. Also, if your child does something complimentary, let them know how happy their actions have made you.
Lastly, teach your child not to force friendships. Friendships happen naturally. They are relationships that grow from common interests and understandings. It’s important to teach your children to be kind to others and to involve them in activities, but it’s also important that your child knows that although it is good to be friendly to everyone, they don’t have to be friends with everyone, just those they want to build relationships with

Getting Ready for Summer Break

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Children who have been diagnosed with autism often have a hard time with routine changes and the beginning of summer break can be difficult for them. Help your child on the spectrum prepare for this transition by following these few steps:

1. Give Them Notice – When you prepare your child with autism for a change in routine in advance, it gives them time to process the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break. Find out what your child’s teacher is doing to countdown to summer break and do the same thing at home to constantly remind them that a change in their routine is approaching. Discuss summer break with your child on the spectrum, like when it beings, when it ends and what they wil be doing in time times that school is closed.
2. School Friends should also be Summer Friends – Try to find ways for your child on the spectrum to connect with their friends from school over the summer. Plan play dates, arrange gatherings etc. It is also great to pull out the class picture during break and spend time with your child with autism talking about their friends and showing them pictures so they can remember the good times they had while they are away from school.
3. Structure is Still Important – Even though your child is out of school doesn’t mean their days should not be somewhat structured. The school day provides a significant amount of structure for your child, so their time at home, in camp, or on vacation should also provide this type of structure. Have routine, set times for waking up, going to bed, eating, and other activities so your child with autism knows what to expect from their days. Make a calendar or picture schedule showing different activities on different days and times so your child can see what they have planned for the week.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask the Teacher – If you have concerns about your child’s transition from school to summer, ask their teacher for suggestions. Their teacher works with your child daily and may have ideas for your child’s needs or activities your child with autism would enjoy.

Taking the time to prepare your child on the spectrum for summer break will give them something new to look forward to and will allow them the time they need to ease their stress and anxiety when it comes to schedule changes.