Inside: Activities to consider to build social interaction for autism social skills enhancement, to help kids with autism over the summer.
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Summer can be a challenging season for families with children who have autism and/or sensory processing disorders. That’s because the change in schedule and lack of classroom time can leave a lot of the day open, unstructured, and lacking in social interaction. When we think about social interaction in autism, we have to consider the amount of planning on the part of the caretakers. It can take time. Planning ahead and having activities ready for your child can help develop their social skills even when school is out. Let’s explore some summer activities that can encourage social time for autistic kids.
Social Skills Workbooks
Workbooks and printable worksheets can be an excellent resource for home use during the summer. Having a set time each day for sitting down with a social skills workbook gives your child time to learn in a way that’s similar to what they’re used to in the classroom. Worksheets could be useful for visual learners and may work sometimes for children who are non-verbal. While you can purchase workbooks, there are also many worksheets on social skills that are free printable pages related to social skills available online, as well.
Warm summer days provide the perfect opportunity to keep cool by playing with water. Find local splash pads to visit and meet up with a friend. Plan a playdate at a pool. You don’t need to have a swimming pool to entertain your child, either. Simple items like buckets, measuring spoons, and plastic cups can keep kids busy for hours as they explore pouring, dumping, and measuring. A water balloon toss or a water balloon fight with a friend can be big fun. Buckets with pre-filled water balloons can be set up at various distances and the game can be played socially distanced, if needed. Always stay close by and supervise water play, even if it’s only a small amount.
Playtime With New Fidget Toys
The increasing popularity of fidget toys makes it easier to find new and interesting options for your child. Amazon has many to choose from in different colors, sizes, and designs. Set up a playdate and present the kids with a few new fidget toys to play with. They can take turns, share, and show one another how the toys work. Fidget toys have the added benefit of being stress relievers, so if your child is feeling anxious about a playdate, centering it on these types of toys can be a big help. AutismClassroom.com has a new social interaction support resource using fidgets as the main star!
When thinking of things for your autistic child to do and enjoy, sports may not be one that comes to mind. That’s because many team sports can be overwhelming for kids with sensory processing issues. Large groups, loud voices, and chaotic movements can be stressful. However, there are many individual sports that autistic kids can thrive at. Gathering in a small group to do things like bike riding, bowling, tennis, horseback riding, mini-golfing, and even jogging allows for social interaction in a more relaxed setting. Some kids may like to kick a soccer ball or make your own goal posts and have a soccer match. These are the types of activities that don’t require a commitment, either, so you aren’t obligated to join a league or sign up for a team. You can simply get together with a few friends for an hour or two.
As the parent of an autistic child, you may be looking forward to the long summer days. Being proactive about developing their social skills and providing fun social skills activities is the best way to help them progress when classroom time isn’t available. Here are 30 fun things to do. This site has more ideas for summer activities.
By thinking ahead and putting together plans with others, you can create opportunities for social interactions that can be both fun and meaningful!
If you are looking for more information about social skills, try one of these links:
Using Social Skills Worksheets to Craft a Social Skills Classroom Program
5 Strategies to Teach Social Skills for Autism Support Classes
Social Skills Training for Students with Autism
Why Social Skills Are Important
Autism Classroom.com's List of Social Skills Strategies