The summer holidays are quickly approaching, which is an exciting time for many children, however, for some this may be an anxiety inducing time. Adapting routines can cause anxiety and a sense of instability/loss of control due to the sensory sensitivities and difficulties with transitions. However, this doesn’t have to be the case, exposing them to small adaptations prior to the holidays should ensure they transition smoothly. Along with support to transition, we will also share activities you and your family can enjoy over the summer months.
How can we transition smoothly into the summer routine:
- Communicate and prepare: Children with SEND are usually anxious because they are unaware why their routine is changing/have no time to adapt. Communicate with them about the changes to come, and what is planned for the summer months.
- Gradual adjustments: Try to gradually adjust their routine in the wind-down into the holidays. You could change bedtimes or mealtimes slightly or adjust the timing of activities. The step-by-step approach should allow your child to adapt more smoothly, avoiding sudden disruption.
- Maintain familiar elements: While the summer routine differs, try to incorporate familiar elements that will provide a sense of continuity. If you enjoy certain activities/hobbies during school terms, incorporate them into the summer.
- Embrace flexibility: The summer holidays are all about relaxation and fun. Allow spontaneous activities and adventures! While routines provide structure, it’s also important to let go of rigidity, find your families perfect balance.
What activities can My unique family get up to this summer?
When it comes to fun over the summer holidays children and families have an array of activities to enjoy. We all have different interests in life, so children will have varying ideas of activities they enjoy.
We want to you to know-you are not alone!
As parents, you may be struggling, especially since “80% of parents with children with learning difficulties struggle to access support services during the summer holidays”. Even if you have support from family & friends available, you may worry about the public’s attitudes. You are not alone 58% of parents also raise these concerns. The purpose of summer is to enjoy having time together, whether that’s inside the house or enjoying the sunshine at the beach or park.
Here are some activities your family could enjoy:
- Relaxed performances at a local cinema or theatre: these shows have adjusted sound & lighting levels to suit those with sensory processing/communication needs.
- Quiet time: we don’t tend to do this outdoors. However, this could be relaxing and great for your children to engage with nature and perfect to reduce anxiety.
- Picnics: This could be done in your garden, or a beautiful national park. Making the picnic with a bit of food sampling can also be a fun activity!
- Nature walks: They can provide amazing sensory stimulation. Your children can collect rocks, leaves & flowers, anything that interests them.
- Swings: at your local park, some feature adaptive swings. You could also buy adaptive swings for your own garden. Swings can be perfect for your child, and a great activity to reduce anxiety outdoors.
Some fun activities to enjoy at home:
- Building blocks: Building blocks give your children the opportunity to build something safely on their own. This gives a real sense of achievement and pride, as well as developing hand-eye coordination.
- Artistic expression workshops: This provides a creative outlet for children with SEND. This can include the following, painting, music, and dance. Art is a means of communication and self-expression, as well as promoting emotional well-being.
- Puzzles: not only will your children find this entertaining, but It’s also a great way to get them to practise problem solving.
- Board/card games: board games provide structure for your children and help build their social skills. A useful tip: use board games to reinforce specific skills like Maths reading or turn taking.
- Baking: Baking can be a great social activity getting friends involved and improving/maintaining their social skills.
- Making music: This can help them learn about numerical sequences, patterns & rhythm. If your child is non-verbal or has limited speech, have them use a visual chart to express their musical preferences. Dancing can also be an excellent form of communication and a fun form of exercise.
Anxiety-reducing activities: if the change in routine has triggered anxiety give some of these a try:
- Calm down jars: throw warm water, glitter glue and glitter in a glass or plastic jar and give it a shake. Watching the glitter slowly float to the bottom can be extremely soothing and relaxing. You could use jars of all sizes, making a small version to pop in your bag or pocket when you’re on the go.
- Worry Box: get them to make the worry box, decorating it however they please. Let them get as creative as they want. Explain it’ll be in a special place where they can store their worries. This allows your child to take control of their anxiety and you can set aside to discuss why they’re feeling this way.
- Stress Balls: you can buy these online, or if you want to create a fun DIY activity, grab a balloon, and fill it with flour, rice or play dough. They’re great for a fidget and are a fantastic distraction for those suffering from Trichotillomania, (Someone who cannot resist the urge to pull their hair).
- Sentre: based in Birmingham, it’s a space for children aged 2-10 with autism-specific needs. Sentre is a safe environment that allows parents to recharge while their children are with care experts.
- Search for similar play centres in your local area.
Have a positive attitude and enjoy activities the whole family wants to join. Everyone’s idea of fun differs, so this summer uniquely take your place and create some memories!