Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sweet Summertime?

Summer is around the corner.  Oh, glorious summer!  (And oh, cruel irony, that as I write this the forecasters are warning of snow, SNOW!, in our immediate future.)  When I think of the summers of my childhood, one word dominates.  Freedom.  No schedules, no agendas. Just pure adventure and unstructured time. (It didn't hurt that part of my childhood I was a latch-key kid.)  I can't help but want this for Blink.

And yet.

The summer after Blink's diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome, I had done my reading and I knew that  kids on the spectrum need order in their worlds in order to feel safe and be successful -- predictable schedules, routines, and activities and the like.

With this knowledge in hand, I tried to schedule Blink for lots of structured activities. A rotating list of weekly day camps, T-ball in the evenings. For all this planning, I got a child who grew more disregulated by the week. For my understanding was incomplete.  Yes, there may have been structure, but each week required a new environment, new people, new rules to get used to. And participation in team sports?  That was hardly a recreational experience for any of us.

The following year, I decided he needed less structure. (And really, what's the point of spending all that time and money to schedule activities that aren't enjoyable and ultimately make family life more difficult?) Maybe there *was* something to having time to decompress and be free of schedules, I told myself. It was, well, not exactly disastrous, but by no means a success. Again, we finished the summer with more issues than we began.

Here I am this year, again trying to devise my plans and facing a longer summer than in past years due to the change of schools and school schedules.  Again, I feel the need to give Blink some time to decompress from a challenging end to his school year.  I'm aiming for a therapeutic decompression this year. Here's what I have on the docket:

  • Amazing PCA support, the lynchpin of the entire endeavor. I thank the stars for this resource. 
  • 4 weeks, spread out throughout the summer, of morning camps at the science-oriented nonprofit Blink has been participating in (mostly successfully) for the past few years. 
  • Weekly social skills group*
  • Weekly individual skills training* 
  • Weekly OT*
  • Hopefully, a weekly stress management class for kids on the spectrum
  • Maaaaybe swim lessons?
  • Season pass to the pool?

* These items are things we already do, so they won't be anything new to Blink.  I'm hoping to make up a loose daily schedule that involves a lot of time outdoors and bike riding -- I am hoping we can do this without making it seem too proscribed but also giving a bit of needed structure.  I'll have to report back to see how it goes!


web said...

We had good results with swim lessons, I've heard it's often a calming activity for spectrum kids.

Julie said...

Bria loves her weekly swim lessons at Foss. They have the best instructors. It's more expensive, but totally worth the price if you can swing it (they give a small discount for "special needs").

And you know about the AuSM summer camps? Bria is going again this year and really looking forward to it.

Otherwise, sounds like we have the same weekly things going on :)

web said...

Oh, also see if you have a climbing facility around. That is awesome heavy work for sensory needs.