It’s great to see them getting a break after yet another busy term but we all know school holidays can quickly degenerate into complaints of “I’m bored” or reliance on ABC kids or the Xbox to babysit.
For children young and old with a disability, holiday time can be an extra challenge. The usual routines are lost and they may not be able to participate in all of the activities that their peers are enjoying.
But you can help by creating your own routines at home and ensuring there is at least a basic structure to each day. This can be particularly beneficial for children with autism but is something that most children will respond to. Even if they won’t thank you for it.
Routines provides structure, a sense of control and are also a source of comfort especially for younger children. It doesn’t need to be too strict and you could start with the basics like:
A good way to get them involved and to save on arguments is to give them choices e.g. a couple of options for breakfast, do they want to go to the library or the playground? Giving choices that are pre-selected (and that you are willing to fulfil) gives children a sense of control and can be a useful strategy to reduce arguments.
The aim of your routine should be to let your children know what’s expected of them and help them prepare for the fun of each day.
Social stories are a great way to explain in advance about some of the activities or events that will be happening. They help pre-inform and re-assure children. There’s no set rules but they usually include:
We’d suggest just one big activity per day and not necessarily every day. Here’s a few ideas for quieter activities at home to keep them busy:
For many parents, school holidays are your holidays too but they don’t always feel like it. Don’t beat yourself too much if there are tantrums and meltdowns. Try to focus on the positive interactions that happen along the way and if the routine doesn’t work out, try again tomorrow.
Further reading: Preventing the end of year burn for ASD children.