This past holiday season, we shared a popular post about helping kids with learning and behavioral disorders avoid stress and sensory related meltdowns. Enjoy and share this updated version for summer with tips and strategies to help parents keep kids calm and focused once the school year is finished. At Brain Balance, we want everyone to enjoy this busy and fun season, especially those with special needs like SPD, ADHD and Asperger Syndrome.
1. Keep A Schedule
Whether it’s a written schedule or one with pictures for younger kids, your child with special needs will feel calmer and safer knowing what is coming next. During summer break, it can be more difficult to give your child a concrete schedule since activities can be short-lived or even spontaneous. For the parts of your day that are open-ended, try adding a block of time to your child’s schedule called “open play” or use a question mark to indicate the time slot has yet to be filled. Discuss the schedule regularly and provide information for spontaneous events as they arise. For example, if you decide to go out for ice cream, let your child help you draw or write it in the schedule. Always let your child know which events will take place outdoors and which will be loud or crowded. For kids with special needs, more information means better transitions.
2. Use A Code Word
Choose a code word your child can use if he or she feels overwhelmed and needs a break. Assure your child if he or she uses the code word, you will respond right away. Again, giving children some control during activities that may be overstimulating for them will reduce anxiety. This technique could be particularly helpful during parades or at your neighborhood’s crowded pool.
3. Have A Family Meeting
Before you attend parties, parades, or other fun events, have a quick family meeting so your whole family knows how long you plan to stay and how you expect them to behave. This will benefit neuro-typical children as well, since any child can get overstimulated from summertime excitement.
4. Make Sleep A Priority
Continue to make your child’s sleep schedule a priority even in summer. While you may adjust your schedule to accommodate a later sunset, it is still important to establish consistent sleep and wake times throughout the season. Revert to your school schedule two to three weeks before school begins again so your child is well-rested and ready to learn.
5. Plan Ahead
Children with significant sensory sensitives may require a little extra planning to enjoy summer activities. For example, you may need to bring along ear plugs if you will be in a noisy environment or sensory fidgets if the child is expected to sit still. For sensitive kids who need to wear bathing suits or other potentially aggravating attire, bring along soft, comfortable clothes for them to change into as soon as possible. Be prepared by knowing your child’s specific limitations and how you will handle them if the need arises. Don’t wait for the meltdown to begin.
6. Be Inclusive
If your family members have food sensitives or allergies that prevent them from eating summertime treats, plan ahead to offer alternatives like all-natural candy or a gluten-free treat from home. Children with neuro-behavioral disorders like ADHD and autism often feel different already, so make an extra effort to include them in as many festivities as possible.
Keeping kids calm and focused this summer isn’t out of reach. A little extra planning and preparation can help your child with special needs enjoy all the fun things summer has to offer.
Could your child with learning or behavioral issues benefit from increased confidence, better motor skills, and academic improvement? Brain Balance Achievement Centers offer the Brain Balance Program® in 57 nationwide locations and growing. After completing a comprehensive assessment of your child’s brain and body function, we integrate physical, sensory-motor, and cognitive exercises with simple dietary changes to optimize brain function and reduce or eliminate negative symptoms and behaviors. Each child’s program is unique to his or her struggles. Contact us today to learn more about our program and take advantage of our special Summer offers!