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Summer tips for children with autism spectrum disorder

Summer is an exciting time for school-aged children, but for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the change in routine can be challenging.

“Although this summer may be different than you had planned, staying focused on enjoying your time together can make it a fun and memorable experience for the entire family,” says Dr. Lauren Couch, CHOC Children’s psychologist.

Here are some tips from the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC Children’s to help your child with ASD enjoy summertime.

  • Maintain schedules. One of the biggest challenges during the summer is the change from specific routines around school to less structured days. Try to maintain your child’s usual eating and sleep schedule as much as possible.
  • Share activities. Track your upcoming summer activities on a calendar that your child can access, so they can see what is coming up. Use pictures on the calendar to represent activities, as this can help children with ASD understand what to expect.
  • Familiarize in advance. When you plan any activities, try to familiarize your child with anything new or different. Show them photos of the activity or practice it ahead of time.
  • Prepare for the heat. Cook some meals ahead of time to keep you out of the kitchen when it gets too hot. Stock up on frozen treats and cool healthy snacks. Buy fans ahead of time – they are often sold out in the middle of a heat wave. Remind your child to drink water, as many children with ASD may need to be prompted to stay hydrated.
  • Create a backup plan. To help kids cope if things don’t go as planned with an upcoming activity or event, develop two scenarios: Plan A if things go well and Plan B if issues pop up. Review and practice for each possibility with your child in advance so they are prepared if things change.

To help keep your child busy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when outings are limited, here is a list of activities to entertain them and keep sensory overload to a minimum.

Explore the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC Children's

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