Little Leaps Group Therapy transitioning to year-round school: What you should know
March 28, 2017
Summer Activities & Camps
June 3, 2015
The kids may still be in school, but the recent temperatures that have been reaching into the 90s have officially confirmed Summer to be in session.
It might be agreed that summer is the one season that has a never-ending list of activities for the kids once school is over. You may be thinking of a million outdoor activities to plan with the family. I can bet that at some point you’ve thought about using the pool or beach as an outlet for your child on the spectrum. There’s that cool water and warm sand…elements most nuero-typical children would enjoy. But for our kids, water and sand, paired with the large crowds and loud sounds, may cause sensory overload and the ultimate meltdown.
Since our ASD kids fall across a large spectrum of sensory needs, let’s look at a breakdown of options that can meet the particular needs of your child. From indoor activities to camps, there’s definitely something you can bring to your child for some summer fun.
For the kids who LOVE water
If you child falls in this category, it is a no-brainer to take advantage of your local pool. You can plan a trip to the beach or the nearest water park.
If your child gets overwhelmed with the large crowds and noise, look for smaller pools that you can join. Gym’s often have indoor pools that tend to be less crowded.
And, If you still can’t seem to get them comfortable in other outdoor settings, here are some easy to find items that you can buy for around the house to set up activities in your backyard:
Get a small plastic outdoor pool
Use the good, old fashioned sprinkler or hose!
Here is an activity that you can set up inside your house for the rainy days:
This might be the simplest activity to make with a hundred opportunities in which you can create play:
1. Grab a simple bucket or container (clear containers work the best). Fill this with water.
2. Get a few items your child can manipulate in the water. Here are some ideas to put in your water tub:
Tolo Toys Funtime Fishing
Melissa & Doug Spark Shark Fish
These types of activities can help with fine motor skills and as well as increase appropriate play skills. Keep in mind that if your child has water sensory needs, these types of small activities are great ways to begin the desensitization process. If your child has a sensory need, please speak to your therapist(s) to address this concern.
For the Kids Who Prefer a Water-Free Zone
Many of our kids could easily do without the water due to sensory issues. You can still get your child to enjoy a large array of outdoor activities without the water!
Here are some easy to find items that can help entertain your child outdoors:
Bubbles: try scented or colored.
Crayola Neon Paint: this is washable sidewalk paint.
Get a small trampoline for the backyard
Sand: get a small tray and add some sand along with various toys into the mix.
Kinetic sand is very popular, and you can get this at your local Michael’s for less than $10. If you have space in your backyard, you can also get a larger sand tub that your child can actually sit in. This can definitely create an easy way for your child to have fun without having to leave the house!
For the Long Summer Trips
Parents often find themselves in a rut when they do take trips, as their kids still have to get entertained in the backseat. Here are a few items that can help take the edge off the long trips. The Crayola brand has several items that have been created for convenient backseat fun. Look into some of these types of items for more ideas:
Crayola Doodle Magic items
Crayola Activity Center items
Dry Erase items
This is always a popular go-to in the Summer!
While Leap Ahead offers it’s own summer camp, the recent status has been nearly full for the past few weeks. Check with the LEAP Ahead director for any updates if you are still interested.
However, this does not have to mean that you are out of luck for other types of camps. Here are some general places you can check for other summer camps or activities:
Check with your local place of worship: These places often have summer camps that you can look into, and they may be lenient in allowing therapists to shadow.
Use your computer to pull up your official county website for places children can register for summer camps or summer activities. Certain county’s often have certain activities available to meet the needs of low- income families.
Search for a listing of local gyms that offer summer camps. They often have swimming camps, art camps, or sports camps. Some gyms offer adapted swimming, which is great for some of the ASD kids who have behaviors.
I often get asked the question “Is my child high functioning enough in order to be able to join this camp?”. This is a tough question to answer, because the truth is that most camps have different ideas of what high functioning or socialmean. Some camps also have different levels of what type of staff can assist your child, if necessary, which makes them nervous of what they need to offer your child to make sure they are safe.
A parent might also have a different idea of what social means. Some may assume that your child has to be completely mainstreamed or talking up a storm with peers to be considered social enough for a camp. The assumptions can be a thin line to tread without knowing what to look for. The best way to handle this kind of a situation would be to talk to the consultant on your child’s team to determine if your child has the necessary skills to be successful in whatever camp you are interested in.
O.K., let’s say the consultant you spoke to determines that your child has the sufficient skills necessary, but the camp you are interested in looks like it is primarily catered to neuro-typical children. Now what?
Here’s the bottom line: You HAVE to ASK. You need to talk to whoever is in charge, be it the camp director, manager, or camp counselor. Many camps just haven’t had enough experience with children on the spectrum, and they are unsure of what a “child with ASD” will entail. Believe it or not, simply asking if your child can attend, even if it’s on the contingency of them needing an aid, can work magic. I’ve seen some camps offering an additional staff member as a “helper”, while others have allowed therapists to shadow your child. Even if the camp seems less inclined towards meeting the needs of your child, you will never know until you ask!
If you are ever at a loss of what kinds of activities to place your child in, PLEASE ask your therapist(s) and consultant. They have the experience!
We hope that all of our LEAP kids enjoy a safe and fun summer! Please check back in with us soon for the next blog!