Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 8 - Page 40

School’s Out for Warmer Days Shifting Gears and Adjusting to Summer S ummer. The very thought of it makes kids worldwide excited for a three-month break from school without homework, studying, peers, tests, academics, lunchroom dynamics, and other activities that happen inside and outside of the classroom. But for students on the autism spectrum, it could be a shift in household dynamics and routine. There is typically less structure, fewer places to be shuttled off to, or a disconnect. Sometimes there are options like camp, which require making friends, leaving home, or interacting with new people for the first time. What Happens in the Summer By Haley Moss 40 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses At least in my experience, summer is always a time of growing and learning. Before I left for college, and before I left for law school, summer was the time I learned my life and adult skills. I learned how to do laundry, clean my apartment, cook chicken, and manage my schedule best in the summer months when I was at home with some guidance and help. In high school, it was when I learned how to drive. Maybe it was also being a bit of a typical teenager as well at those points, but I always made a point to sleep in if I was able to. I was able to when I took online summer classes in college, and I tried to while I was in high school and younger, too, because having the option to get up later than 6 A.M. always sounded like a smart plan to me. Try to set up some form of a routine. If you are used to waking up at a certain time before the adolescence bug hits and there is a need to sleep in, try to get up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time. It keeps some predictability in your schedule to start and end the same way each day, especially if you are a morning person. I knew, for instance, that my family would want to do things on Fridays, so we would work around that, and Fridays were part of the routine. Set up a family meeting to discuss family outings/ activity plans, vacations, and other disruptions such as outof-town visitors so they aren’t surprises. I also think a great routine to set is a time to get ready for back to school, which usually is at the end of July or midAugust. In that time, carve out a plan to go supply shopping, uniform or clothes shopping, and see what the fall schedule looks like. You can make it a fun family outing. I still like getting to pick out a new colorful backpack every few years and pretty notebooks. I found it helpful to know who my teachers were, when I would have classes, and if there was ever anything that had to be done before the first day or an orientation period. It just eases the transition back to the old routine that once again is another transition out of the nowestablished summer routine. Adventures at Camp Sherry When I was a kid, the summers were a great time to learn, ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 41