The summer holidays, for many people, is a time to rest and enjoy the warmer months. However, for many autisitc people, the summer holidays are a time where their routine is disrupted and the people supporting them have to take on more responsibilities.
Here are some great sensory, outdoor activities you can do to engage your loved one who has autism or a sensory processing disorder.
Simple and safe cooking activities
Try going to a local farmer’s market or supermarket at a quiet time so they can pick fresh vegetables and fruits. If these settings are uneasy for them, try bringing back their favourite foods. Prepare food together in your kitchen. If they’re quite particular about how their food is prepared, let them guide you how they want it to be done.
Create a sensory play area
Whether it’s a sandbox, a table set up or simply a large container, fill it with sand or water. Include natural elements such as flowers or small toys they can play with.
Hire out a private session at a local swimming centre
Private sessions can help ease them into swimming and make the experience easier for both of you. Alternatively, you can go to a smaller swimming centre, specialist swimming classes or choose times of the day/week where it’s less busy.
Build an obstacle course together
This could be inside or outside and can use a variety of different objects. To help, you can collect the items and place them in a basket so they can pick objects from the selection.
Visit a playground
Organise to meet up with some of their friends to create familiarity and give them time to interact with people their own age that they are used to seeing in their normal routine at school.
Finding ways to cope during the school holidays
Consider the sensory needs involving swimwear, sunscreens and other summer items: if they are sensitive to some summer safety measures, for example, sunscreen, try and apply this as much in advance of leaving the house as possible. Alternatively, you can try sunhats, umbrellas, sunglasses or loose shirts to protect them from the sun.
Feel like you need a break? Friends and family are usually the first ‘go-to’ when wanting someone to look after your loved one for a bit while you have a rest. However, this is not always feasible and other options need to be available. Consider having a look at the National Autistic Society’s Directory for local services.