Summer is a time children often look forward to because it means a break from school for a few months. No strict schedules — no classes — no homework. But for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a change in daily routine can actually create new stressors. Children with ASD are often rigid and inflexible when it comes to change, and many do not like it when their schedules are altered. The tension these children experience can also increase the stress levels for the parents and other family members in the household. While no two individuals are alike, there are ways parents can possibly help ASD children transition more smoothly into summer.
Here are some tips for help ease the change:
1. Plan ahead
Knowing what works and what doesn’t work for your child may also help make the transition easier. Planning ahead may help children with ASD adjust to the changes easier, and it is helpful to let the child know what is going to happen next. Some ways that parents can help with the routine changes are by providing their child with a schedule early on and stick to it as much as possible.
2. Use timers/alarms
Some parents find it helpful to have a timer that allows the child to have a visual cue. For example, if you need to leave your house in 15 minutes, you or your child can set the timer to go off in 15 minutes. This allows your child to see the clock and know that when the clock goes off, it is time to leave the house.
3. Utilize Social Stories
Social stories are a great way for parents to introduce and explain social concepts and situations in a visual format for individuals with ASD. Social stories may increase the child’s understanding of a social concept and can help the child understand what is going to happen. By letting your child know ahead of time what is going to take place, the potential anxiety and stress associated with the activity may decrease.