Going back to school is an exciting time for families. Parents get to have a little bit more time of their own than they’ve had in a while, and children get back to classes to learn new things and spend time with their friends. The back-to-school season might also be a little bit of a stressful time for your son or daughter.
As a parent, you know that disruptions to the daily routine can be a bit challenging for children on the spectrum. You probably work quite hard to keep things as “normal” as possible throughout the week and keep such disruptions to a minimum, which means some end-of-the day relaxation and fun might be just what your whole family needs.
Here are a few of our favorite tips for relaxing and unwinding after a long day or even week at school.
Get Outside as a Group
Children typically have recess, but that means they’re spending literally hours each day cooped up in classrooms and focused on learning. That also means your child is likely full of pent up energy, and running around outside is always a great answer.
Studies have shown that time outdoors, exercising, and getting fresh air all have healing benefits that can help reduce anxiety and stress, alleviate depression, improve mood and focus, and more, meaning you’ll be doing something great for everyone’s health.
Play tag, go to a park and climb on jungle gyms, or just sit together and discuss the day — just be surrounded by nature while you’re doing it.
Have Some Arts and Crafts Time
The homework is done and dinner has been had, so what’s more fun than unwinding with arts and crafts? Play with something fun and oozy like homemade slime, build with blocks, color pictures with scented markers, paint with watercolor paints, or make fun models out of modeling clay and watch as they bake in the oven.
Getting your child’s hands into a project will be educational, informative, and relaxing, not to mention creative and fun.
Try Yoga for Families
It is widely known that yoga has myriad health benefits, including improving flexibility, boosting blood flow and circulation, calming breathing, toning muscles, rejuvenating body systems, improving focus, relieving sleep issues, enhancing coordination, and reducing anxiety and depression. The fun animal names for poses make yoga great for parents and children alike, and yoga for families can provide great bonding opportunities that bring you closer together while also furthering your creativity.
Consider signing up for a yoga for families class, or purchase a DVD program that you can do as a family from the comfort of your own home. You can even have your family members all create their own pose.
Read a Book Together
Sure, your child might be in class reading and learning all day, but who doesn’t love the opportunity to read a favorite book in a cozy chair or while tucked into bed? Make sure it’s a favorite story, one that your child knows and can enjoy.
Read it together, making funny voices for each of the characters or pointing out your favorite parts of each picture. Play a game imagining what each of the characters is doing outside of the story pages, letting your creative juices flow.
Hope these fun activities help after a long day at school or over a much needed weekend, and provide your child the mental and physical relaxation needed.
The warm summer months are often filled with fun events, vacations, sunny days, outdoor activities, and plenty of time with family and friends. The season is just long enough to create a new norm for your family. That means your son or daughter with autism will need to adjust back to the daily grind of school in what feels like no time at all.
Go on a school tour
Get the schedule started early
Get good sleep!
Set up a meeting with faculty
Most teachers are available in the weeks before the school year starts because they’re setting up their classrooms and preparing their lesson plans.
Arrange a sit down with them to discuss how to make the year a successful one, including offering tips to understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Try a hug button
Here’s wishing you a happy and safe end-of-summer and back-to-school season!
Summer is a great time for getting outside and spending time with family and friends, but the entire experience can often be overwhelming for autistic children (and their loved ones). The weather is already heating up, so we’ve put together our top activities to help you and your child get the most out of your summer together.
1. Create a home movie theater for outdoor movie fun
Going to a theater can be a fun and exciting experience — often involving lots of great opportunities to practice interactions and use learned skills — but can also be a bit overwhelming for those with autism. For a fun twist, why not consider creating an at-home theater in your backyard? It’s relatively easy to achieve:
Hang sheets on the side of your house or a tall fence and set up a projector. Lay out tons of pillows and blankets to create a homey, cozy outdoor atmosphere, and set up plenty of camping chairs or benches for additional seating. Hang strands of lights and paper lanterns for even more coziness. Invite family and friends to join your movie party, then pop some popcorn, gather up everyone’s favorite snacks, and settle in for a great time!
2. Get outside for long walks in the woods
3. Get to the lake or the beach for sun and sand
4. Try new physical activities
5. Make up a new game
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting is a tool that special education professionals and other support staff use to plan, monitor, and revise a child’s education plan for the coming year or other chosen time periods. These meetings are essential to ensure that the child will receive the support and services that they need to achieve the goals set for the coming period.
Parents and other relatives will usually be present, and it’s important to understand that for many of them, this meeting can be an incredibly emotional event. It is not at all unusual for these family members to become confused, angry, upset, or exhibit other intense emotions during the meeting.
As members of the support staff, we need to ensure that the meeting is productive while remaining helpful and supportive to the family.
BE PREPARED & PROFESSIONAL
Parents and other family members attending the meeting are looking to you to assure them their child is in good hands. Coming to the meeting prepared and exhibiting professionalism during the meeting will go a long way toward making them more comfortable.
Actively Assess the IEP During the Meeting
An IEP meeting is an active discussion to make sure everybody involved in the child’s education is working toward the same goals. Don’t hesitate to provide your input during the meeting.
Be a Good Listener & Actively Participate
All participants in the meeting are there for a reason. It’s essential that everyone has a voice and has a chance to be heard.
Direct Support to the Families - Advocate for Them
It is critical that the family members in attendance feel that the support staff is their child’s advocate - not their enemy. Be sure to address their needs and concerns throughout the meeting.
It is essential that parents and other loved ones present at the IEP feel that their child’s needs are being met. We can help ensure that the meeting is productive and addresses their needs and concerns by coming prepared, ready to listen, and willing to take action.
Books are a critical part of every young child’s development. You probably remember certain books you had as a child that taught you about animals, shapes, colors, numbers and more.
For children with autism, books are a great sensory toy that can help them recognize emotions, understand social cues, and receive valuable sensory input.
We’ve gathered a short list of our favorite interactive, sensory, or counting books to help your child’s development in a fun and stimulating way.
Point to Happy
Never Touch a Monster
Touch! My Big Touch-and-Feel Word Book
The Ocean (Touch and Explore)
Dog’s Colorful Day
The Three Little Pigs: A Nosy Crow Fairy Tale
Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure
Enjoy the Best Books to Touch, Learn, and PlaY
For children with autism, books are a great way to combine playtime with critical development of knowledge and skills. These books provide a stimulating visual, or sometimes tactile, sensory experience while teaching them about emotions, social cues, counting and numbers, and more.
This list includes our favorite interactive, sensory, and counting books for young children with autism. If you purchase one of these books, let us know what you thought!
Changing Lives. together
1573 Fall River Ave
Seekonk, MA 02771