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January 2011



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Friday, July 30, 2010 – Autism Unexpected by Jean Winegardner

Silver Spring, MD (7/30/10) — My autistic son, Jack, thrives on routine. As much as school can be difficult for him, he still needs the day-to-day ritual of getting up at the same time, heading out to school, then returning home after a structured day. Summer presents a challenge, with its long, unstructured days, often with nothing to do.

I am fortunate in that Jack qualifies for Extended School Year (ESY) services, which means that he gets to go to half-day school for all of July. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to keep him tethered to routine. Sadly, that school ends today.

It is hard to maintain routine without an external force that compels you to do so, but if your child is like mine, it can be very worth it. Having just emerged from two and a half days without power at my home due to the recent Maryland storm—which also meant no school for two days—I see how Jack’s behavior suffers when he is left at loose ends.

It’s not that he goes haywire, but he is just obviously thrown off. It was with palpable relief that I put Jack on the school bus again on Wednesday, once his school re-opened, and I could see that he was happy as well.

Now that school is over, I’m thinking of ways to help Jack stay in a routine for the next four weeks until school starts. One of my tactics is to keep the same restraints on TV and video game time that I keep during the school year. It is tempting during the summer to let my kids turn on the TV as early as noon, but my goal every day is to restrict them to the hours of 5 to 6:30 p.m., just like during the school year.

That leaves a lot of time to fill every day. For the past several summers, I have created my own home version of camp with different topics each week to keep my kids busy and to keep their minds working. This summer, we’ve covered topics as diverse as “Where does our food come from?” and simple machines.

Introducing a new theme each week keeps things interesting, but also maintains stability throughout the week. For our food week, we visited farms. Home Depot and the National Building Museum were our destinations for simple machine week.

Read in Full:  http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/autism-unexpected/2010/jul/30/summer-routines-kids-autism/

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