Summer is quickly approaching, and I am feeling stressed because my son will be going on summer break. I can tell from previous experiences that this transition will be taxing. What can I do to help us get through this time of year?
-Stressed About Summer
Dear Stressed About Summer,
Thank you for reaching out. You are not alone in experiencing this as summer break puts many families under pressure for many reasons. For those of us who are challenged by change and a lack of structure, summer breaks can be incredibly difficult. School provides students with schedules, routines, and activities in which they can rely on. Without this, it creates a great deal of uncertainty, and for many families this can be the most difficult time of the year.
I recommend setting up a structured environment for your child. If he can follow a visual schedule and build routines, days will start to feel more familiar.
By having a routine in place, your son will experience less uncertainty as he is adjusting to the summer months. Please note that it can be helpful to introduce some of these routines before the end of the school year. Examples of these routine activities include keeping a similar bedtime schedule, organizing activities for certain days of the week, and encouraging activities that promote learning. Remember, children with autism tend to do better with visual support as well. This includes visual schedules, pictures showing what to do, and timers.
I recommend including your child in this process. It may be a good idea to brainstorm activities together. By helping you plan, your son will gain planning and organization skills, while also taking on more responsibility. Additionally, I encourage you to have the summer schedule posted. It gives your son a chance to know when events are happening. Having this knowledge can assist him in preparing mentally. For the same reason, it will be beneficial to remind your child about events that are coming up. For many children, it can be challenging to move into a new activity without adequate preparation.
It could be beneficial to enroll your child in summer classes. Not only does it provide structure, but it gives your son a chance to gain more knowledge. This does not necessarily have to be school-related; it can be about learning any sort of new skill. Here at the Autism Society of Minnesota, we offer a variety of learning experiences. There are different classes depending on the age and interest of your child. For more information, visit
Another option is to look for summer camps. They can be great opportunities to meet new friends, gain memories that will last for a life-time, and experience the outdoors.
Many families take vacations with family and friends during the summer months. Although fun and exciting, they can be incredibly stressful for those of us who experience challenges with sensory overload. Popular destinations can be crowded in the summer, which can lead to an increase in noise-levels and other visual distractions. It is crucial to be proactive in these situations. Remember to bring ear plugs to help your child block out the noise and find activities that help your child focus on something different than their overwhelming surroundings. Again, be sure to let your child know your plans so they can be prepared.
I hope that this information will be helpful to the both of you.
Have a wonderful summer!
Bjorn Walter, MA.