No school run, no early morning alarm, sounds good right?
For some people, the school holidays are a time for rest and relaxation and a welcome break from a set schedule. However, for children with autism and their parents, the school holidays and the change to routine can be particularly unsettling.
To help out we have put together a number of things that may help make the transition between school and the holidays a little bit easier.
To help prepare your child for the change, start a calendar which not only counts down the number of days until the holidays, but also plans out what you will be doing each day. Use a combination of words and pictures or whichever your child is best able to process. If a whole week is too much, use ‘Now and Next’ boards to show the plans. Make sure to include the whole family in the planning so that everyone has a chance to contribute to what will be happening over the week.
Show your child pictures from the last school holiday to help them to prepare for the type of activities you may get up to or the additional people they may meet. Speak to your child’s teacher in advance and see if there are any set activities that your child completes daily that you could replicate at home. If appropriate you could also ask for some work for your child to complete at home, or just plan to read at the same time each day.
Where possible try and keep some of the daily routines from school time in place. Whether this is bedtimes or mealtimes, just maintaining a level of consistency can be really helpful to your child. Create a task list for your days off to help you stick to a level of routine, even on days when there are a lot of changes.
If you are planning on getting out of the house for a day out then make sure in advance that the place you intend to visit is suitable for your child and their needs. You can check out the website if they have one, call the place you intend to visit or perhaps best of all read any reviews on carers groups or parents groups as these are great places to get a realistic view of what may happen.
Plan ahead with food and if you are planning on buying food when you are there, maybe take a backup meal in case there is nothing your child would usually eat. The school holidays can mean busier swimming pools, zoos and parks. Long forest walks or wrapping up warm for a walk along the beach, might be the relaxing activity you all need.
The thought of taking your child on holiday may be a little overwhelming but there are some wonderful places in the UK and abroad that make a perfect holiday for your child with autism. Provide your child with as many visuals as possible about the different environments, accommodations and transport they may experience as well as helping them to prepare for a different temperature.
If you are planning to fly, check the website of the airport for the support given to people flying who have additional needs. Manchester airport has some good information as well as providing lanyards for anyone who may need one and a separate lounge for customers who may be a little overwhelmed with the airport environment.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. You know your child better than anyone, plan to do what works best for you and your family.