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Five Tips to Help Your Child with Autism this Summer

July 08, 2014

(July 8, 2014) -- The Washington Post published a list of 'Five ways to help your child with autism cope with summer’s relaxed schedule.' The summer can be a difficult time for children with autism transitioning from being out of school. The Post interviewed Lauren Kenworthy, the director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center in the District. The list was created in the hopes of helping parents with a few helpful suggestions during the summer transition. 

Read an excerpt from  the list below. The original post can be found here...

Use a calendar to label “typical” summer days, weekends, vacations and holidays.

Then create a “typical day” schedule that follows the school schedule as much as possible in terms of lunch time and breaks. It can be very specific if you like, or it can be more vague. Think about the things that will happen every day, Kenworthy said, from brushing teeth to reading for a half an hour, and include those in the schedule to give your child a cue of how to move through the day. Make it very visual so your child can refer to it to get an idea of what is coming up.

Avoid developing bad habits.

It can be tough to stick to a schedule during the summer, when you just want to relax and let go a little bit, but the more you can keep to a routine for meals and sleep, and continue to limit screen time, the more well-regulated your child is likely to be, Kenworthy said. You know what causes your child to feel overloaded. For some kids, it’s a messy house. For others, it’s certain kinds of noise. And for still others it can be an unexpected deviation from plans. Maintaining a routine and upholding normal house rules, even in the summer, can help prevent her from reaching her breaking point.

Keep things positive, always.

With any child, it’s more effective to reward good behavior than to punish bad behavior. Kenworthy said parents should try to praise their child four times for every one time they correct something. That can be challenging when your child is really pushing your buttons, but Kenworthy suggests using a pen to mark praises on one of your hands and corrections on the other so you can keep track of how often you’re doing each. You can make that praise concrete by using stickers and a reward chart. Give him a star every time he is flexible or completes a task in a timely manner or manages a transition well. Once he gets a certain number of stickers, he earns a treat such as special one-on-one time to play a game with a parent, or choosing the family’s dessert.