Summer Activities for Aspergers Children

Many Aspergers (high functioning autistic) kids have extreme difficulties with transitions. This can be a simple transition, such as moving from one activity to another, or a more significant transition like school letting out for the summer. When moms and dads plan ahead and schedule summer activities for their youngster, the transition out of school and into the less structured summer-time can be easier for all involved.

The purpose of summer vacation should be to give kids the opportunity to explore new learning avenues. If you have an Aspergers child, two new learning opportunities that he can benefit from are (a) new activities and (b) new places. Being able to do a new activity or go into a new location - and feel comfortable - is a valuable skill that many Aspergers kids struggle with. Fortunately, during the summer months, you can go to new places earlier in the day when they are not as crowded, which should make the experience a lot easier for your child to deal with.

Get ready for summer outdoor activities, and get some great gear. Globo Surf can help you with their great guides and tips about everything outdoors.

The first step in exposing your Aspergers child to new activities and places will be to create a social story about it. The social story will explain where you will be going, what you will be doing, and how long you will stay there.

The second step is to walk your child through the activity he will be engaging in at the new place (e.g., he may be riding his bike in a park he has never been in).

The third step is to go to the location and engage in the activity (while monitoring closely how well your child is adjusting to the experience). It is a good idea to involve a reward at the end of a ‘successfully completed’ activity (e.g., buying a special video or book).

Now that you know how to handle exposing your child to new places and activities, sift through the list below for some ideas on what to do. (Note: Aspergers children are not all alike. One child may tolerate a particular activity or location quite well – while another may slip into a full-blown meltdown. So take it slow at first – and keep it simple).

Summer Activities for Aspergers Children—

1. AMC movie theaters provide sensory friendly film showings to families affected by Aspergers on a monthly basis. The movies are shown with the lights up and sound turned down and sensory affected audience members are invited to get up out of their seats whenever they want. It's an excellent way to enjoy a movie!

2. As the pressures of the school year ease up during the summer months, this can be a great time to get involved with other families of Aspergers children in your area. Join or form a social-skills group, which helps Aspergers children practice specific social skills within the context of a play group, field trip, or activity. Many Aspergers children desperately want to make friends and participate in social activities, but lack the direct understanding of how to do so. A social-skills group, made up of other children on the autism spectrum, is a safe place to learn and practice social skills without fear of rejection or ridicule.

3. Attend a concert.

4. Bake some cupcakes and deliver them to friends and family.

5. Bead some bracelets and sell them for charity.

6. Blow up balloons, put notes inside and let them go into the atmosphere.

7. Build a tree house.

8. Clean up a nature trail.

9. Create a web site or blog.

10. Donate some of the toys and clothes you no longer use.

11. Explore nature at a local park and take pictures of what you find to make a family scrapbook.

12. Fly a kite.

13. Go backpacking.

14. Go camping.

15. Go canoeing.

16. Go on a walk and take pictures of trees, flowers, dogs, etc.

17. Go to a ballgame.

18. Go to a museum.

19. Go without TV for a day.

20. Have a family game night.

21. Have a picnic.

22. Have a yard sale.

23. If you live in a larger metropolitan area, there may be day camps and other structured activities designed especially for children with Aspergers. These camps provide children with some of the same routines they are used to at school, while allowing them to participate in activities such as camping, swimming, arts and crafts, and other projects. Check with your child's teacher, case manager, or doctor for recommendations. Look for a day camp staffed by counselors that have had extensive training with ASD children. A counselor who has not been trained to work with Aspergers children may inadvertently trigger a meltdown, and not know how to handle one in progress. Be sure you and your child's doctor or therapist can meet with camp staff to go over strategies to make this a positive experience for your child.

24. Jump on a trampoline.

25. Learning does not have to stop just because school is out for summer. Build time into your child's daily or weekly schedule to research, experiment, and investigate a topic that interests him. If he loves video games, challenge him to design one of his own. If he is fascinated by insects, summer is a great time to begin (or add to) an insect collection. Before school is over, talk to your child about what he would like to learn more about, and begin collecting materials and planning activities to support his goals.

26. Make a bird feeder.

27. Make a bonfire and roast hotdogs and/or marsh mellows.

28. Make a collage from magazine words and pictures.

29. Make a movie.

30. Make a root beer float.

31. Make a scrapbook of everything you and your child do this summer.

32. Make dinner together.

33. Make homemade ice cream.

34. Make refreshing (and healthy) snacks like fruit smoothies and ice pops.

35. Order a pizza.

36. Plant something.

37. Set up a lemonade stand.

38. Sign up at your local library for their Summer Reading Program.

39. Sleep outside under the stars (when the weather is conducive to such an activity) using only a sleeping bag and a blow-up mattress.

40. Some Aspergers kids’ greatest sensory gains come from good old-fashioned trips to the pool. In addition to overcoming sensory issues in terms of water, you and your child can practice a lot of spatial activity with simple games of catch (e.g., with a wet, spongy nerf ball). As your child progress over some of the water issues, you may want to try water slides at your local water park.

41. Stargaze in your backyard, encouraging your kids to imagine what it would be like living on another planet.

42. Summer is the perfect time to visit local bouncer locations. “Pump It Up” is highly involved in ASD therapy bounces and has many "open" jumps on their calendar every week. Many parents see great sensory gains after a round on the giant bouncers. It's hard to call this "treatment" when it's fun for the whole family.

43. Take a boat ride.

44. Tie-dye some t-shirts.

45. Visit a farm.

46. Visit a National Park.

47. Visit the zoo.

48. Volunteer at the local animal or homeless shelter.

49. Walking and hiking can be great physical activities that your child may enjoy. However, if they have visual sensory issues, they may get vertigo if you try walking down a hill. Keep this in mind when selecting placing to walk at or hike.

50. You might find a non-profit organization near you that offers horseback riding as a therapy for special needs riders. Most moms and dads of ASD children immediately see the benefit that natural horseback riding provides in the "bouncing" and "crashing" movements that stimulate spatial relations.

Summer is a time for Aspergers children to take a breather from school and get their bearings. There are so many alternative therapies out there that thrive on outdoor, warm weather fun outside of a school setting. So get outside and have a great summer!


Anonymous said...

I would like some advice about my 6 year old son who has Aspergers. He seems to have great difficulty in processing random events and accidents i.e. if something goes wrong or someone gets hurt it always has to be someone's fault.
For example a classmate accidently fell and bumped into him and playt trtime. My son was knocked to the ground and hurt. It seems impossible for my son to understand this was an accident. He talks about this boy being his worst enemy. He will sometimes play happily with him then randomly return to the event and can get physical trying to hurt him.
If he hurts himself or trips anywhere he will say I or someone present pushed him (even if they are no where near him). If ever I had to take him to A and E I feel sure he would say I had hurt him.

Anonymous said...

We had and still have sometimes the same problem with our son. The accident keeps replaying in your son's mind like a broken record. We had to work on making new, better memories for him to associate with a certain person or place. It has gotten better as he is now 8. They percieve things differently, and I just make sure I tell people he's autistic before he opens his mouth. My son has said things that I about died from, that were in NO way true, LOL. Hang in there, you are not alone.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I am mother to a newly diagnosed 8yr old girl who is an aspie. We always new she needed extra support and modified things for her but just recently got a label for it.
She is finishing up 2nd grade, and at the school she attends they just really got into writing this year. It has been horrible. She can't finish her assignments in class, and brings home her work, then it takes 3 hours to finish an assignment that should have been completed easily within class time. I feel bad for her, she tells me that it's a challenge and I am still trying to figure out the real issue.
She comes up with amazing stories, she tells them to us orally, but when it's time to write them down she gets stuck. The same thing happened recently when she wrote a factual report about the brown bat.

Anyone with something similar that found a solution? We just began contact with a psychologist and so far all I got from him was that "writing is a common problem for kids with aspergers." I am sure I will get more from him at a later date but for now I want to help my daughter not cry and be stressed out over these assignments.
Luckily, the teacher has been very patient!

Thanks and I am excited to share with all of you.

Anonymous said...

I am feeling quite desperate at the moment. My son was diagnosed with Asperger's by a neurological psychologist last summer. He was 18 at that time. My relationship with him has been very strained since then. I think he blames me for pushing to have a diagnosis (I thought it would help to have it for college and any accommodations he might need). He says he does not have Aspergers and will not address that issue in his life. We found an excellent counsellor in our area who is experienced in Aspergers. She doesn't have her doctorate so our insurance won't cover her, but we are willing to pay for sessions with her. My son saw the counsellor once or twice but refuses to go again. I have gotten a lot of advice from her but most of it hasn't worked.

My son thinks I don't love him. He gets very obsessed about our relationship and is very critical of me. He thinks I watch too much tv--I've noted that and have watched much less, but it doesn't seem to matter. He also thinks I should work out more. We try to go to the gym two times a week together--it is on the calendar. Sometimes things get in the way and we can't do it. He is now on a kick (and was a few months ago) that I need to go to Yoga. I would love to, but honestly, I just don't have time to go when the classes are offered. I have a lot going on this summer and I work part time. I started working last summer for the first time in 18 years so this year has been full of stresses. He also states extremes like Today is the worst day of my entire life. Last night he told me that he came to the slow realization that I don't love him. I stayed calm, but both my husband and I were upset by it and firm with him that if he wants to have a good relationship with me he needs to focus more on the positive than the negative and of course that kind of statement is very upsetting to a mom.

He has been mad at me all day today because he dreamt that I screamed at him until he cried and then I stabbed him to death. I, of course, reassured him that I would never ever do that. I don't scream at him. He gets upset if I show any emotion, but if I don't he thinks I am like a robot. He absolutely refuses to see the counselor. His dad and I are contacting her for us to go and talk to her. He is over 18 so we can't make him do anything. He doesn't have the skills to support himself and is threatening to move out. He doesn't have a job and really has no concept of how to really look for a job.

I'm sorry for the rambling. I'm just wondering if anyone has experienced anything like this with their adult AS child and if they have any advice. I'm really at my wits end.

thank you,

mpwebb said...

First of all I'd like to say thank you for all of the great ideas!! I have been posting some ways to sneak in developmental and academic skill building using summer themed things at my website, www.myobstaclecourse.com. I'm a former teacher and mother of a 7 year old son who is on the spectrum.
As for the anonymous with the 8 year old daughter, what is the purpose of the writing assignments- handwriting or ideas on paper? Does she struggle with organizing her thoughts? If so, try making a story map or web. There are also programs that make this easy - kidspiration or inspiration are ones that I used with my students while teaching. How are her computer skills? Perhaps she could type instead of write. If she struggles with both, have her dictate (writing exactly what she says), teach her about editing and making revisions, before printing out a final product. I'd also encourage you to back up a bit and build her writing from where she is (brainstorming, sentences, paragraphs, etc.), slowly expanding from there, not placing focus on where she or the school says she is supposed to be. That actually doesn't matter because she is where she is and no amount of someone telling her how to do something she is not ready for is going to help. Building from where she is will help her whereas having her try to always keep up when she's not ready is only going to leave her more frustrated and feeling like she's never going to get it. I hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Hi carrie, My wife and I also have a teenager with aspergers. I understand your frustrations. We are very active in learning about our sons troubles as well. It sounds like your son has no idea how off hos perceptions of others expectations are, which is a common thread through most aspergers children. One very important component in dealing with aspie children is to not let them control you. Our son can be very cunning and manipulative when he wants to get his way. He will use guilt, lying, tantrums or even violent behavior at times. We have recently started social coaching for the whole family and with a lot of hard work our boy is beginning to understand that other people have expectations. You might want to see if there are any similar organizations in your area otherwise the gray center for social understanding has a lt of materials available online.

Mommy help said...

My almost 15 year old daughter has aspergers. I can NOT get her outside to play. She's deathly afraid of bugs, bees, etc... any ideas on how to get her to put down the electronics and make some friends?

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