Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 8 - Page 42

relax, play, and spend time with my family. I never went to summer camp, so my mom had what we called “Camp Sherry,” named after my mom. My mom is a stay-at-home mom, and she would coordinate activities and fun things for us to do together during the summers. I remember summers we spent by the pool reading the Harry Potter books, doing arts and crafts together, going to Disney World as a family for a weekend or so, or just going out as a family. I was never bored. I was always learning something in the background too, whether it be social skills, how to do chores, or about my autism. (I learned I was on the spectrum one lazy day during Camp Sherry.) My mom would schedule times we would do things, or I had free time, so I would know when it was okay for me to tune out and play video games or with toys and not have to engage anyone or be busy with other plans. Some of my fondest memories were of arts and crafts times, when we would make soaps, Perler Bead creations, or when we would sit out by the pool reading the Harry Potter books out loud. Having a lot to do and having my mom be a pseudo-camp counselor also made me the envy of my friends, and I always still smile and get a kick out of saying that I spent summers at Camp Sherry. (It also sounds cooler when you’re a kid than saying you stayed at home.) Summer Routines in College Life I felt like my routine during college summers was a little bit predictable. I took more classes, so my schedule was still packed and full of routine. However, I took these classes online while I was back home with my family. It allowed me to work on more of my own schedule as long as I met course deadlines, so I was able to have the routine of school in the background while I enjoyed getting to write, draw, paint, have fun, and see family and friends over the summer. Last summer I tried to enjoy and relax a little bit more since it would be my last summer of not having to work or take classes since I was headed off to law school, and once I am out of law school, I will be working. money management. Work also keeps them on a schedule since jobs require you to be somewhere for certain hours on specific days, and having extra money is always a perk when you are in college. Working is also empowering. Here are some of my best recommendations for summers while in postsecondary education: An internship is a form of work experience. It may be demanding, require you to move, or be a “dream opportunity;” it may or may not pay you, and you might get school credit instead of payment. An internship is a lot like a job; you show up, get experience, and learn skills that are practical to what you want in a career outside of the classroom. Also, you get a supervisor who hopefully is willing to mentor you and give you feedback on your work so you can improve in a safe, supportive environment while being ready to tackle what comes after graduation. 1. Keep taking classes. Whether or not this is feasible depends on your financial situation, scholarships, loans, etc., but if it is, taking classes is a great way not to have to shift your routine too much. Typically, in summers the classes are more intense but shorter, and the “downtime” is right after the end of the semester, much like a shortened Christmas or spring break before diving back in, so use the free time much like you would any other school vacation – relaxing, catching up with friends and family, or taking the time to do something you truly enjoy before going back to the grind of schoolwork. 3. Intern! Keep in mind that you can probably do a combination of these things at the same time, but I would try to know what you can handle and not burn yourself out too much. It is easy to get overwhelmed, and summer is not the time to be extra-stressed or anxious and burn out before the school year starts back up again! Classes over the summer are also a way to be able to lighten your course load in the fall because of the credit hours, or if you are taking longer to graduate, it might shorten your time in school. Also, summer classes have a tendency to be smaller, so you might get some more one-on-one interaction with faculty. 2. Get a job. A lot of people I know worked over the summer, and in that, they were able to learn additional adult skills like budgeting and 42 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses Haley Moss is a law student at the University of Miami who was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism at age three. She is an artist and the author of Middle School: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About and A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About. ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 43