If you are a parent of a special needs child or preteen like ourselves transitions and schedule changes are tricky. So during these long periods I always have something in place to keep my preteen autistic son busy, especially tying into his daily living skills and worksheets:
I used to think that having a visual schedule would be something my autistic son would not have to need anymore, especially as he got older and used to his home routine, but that is so much further from the truth. It is imperative to have a visual schedule in your child’s room, bathroom, computer and at school. This is to ensure a smooth transition and to lessen a child’s anxiety of not knowing what to do next. We have visual and digital schedules for our son, so he knows exactly what to do each day.
We used Melissa & Doug’s Magnetic Calendar for years with our son, until he hit Middle School and he thought it was too babyish, so now we just use a regular calendar with all of the holidays. He especially liked this one, with all of its quotes on each month.
So BEFORE Spring Break arrives he/she will have it marked on their calendars and this will give you a few days to prepare these tips I am sharing with you now.
If there is one thing that I cannot emphasize enough is to take your son or daughter out into the world to do what needs to be done on a daily basis, so he/she understands the importance and validity of taking care of themselves, including going to the grocery store. Nothing annoys me more when I read comments from some homeschooling families that question another parent’s homeschooling decisions, in regards to isolation and not being socialized enough. As a parent, teaching your autistic son or daughter how to go grocery shopping(how much things cost, sales, coupons, reading directions, functional math, functional reading, etc.) will be much more valuable to their quality of life than sitting in a chair for 6 hours a day at a public school. Believe me we know.
So if you can and are able to do this for your son or daughter, make it a priority. This will help them gain more independence and tools for everyday life, as well as add to their overall quality of life.
During these breaks during the school year, I always have a plethora of various worksheets that address all of the common core(depending on what academic level your child is at) as well as functional math and reading skills. At the end of the day, I try to incorporate each of these subjects in everyday life, but when I am unable to I rely on worksheets and or workbooks. The one site in particular that has been my saving grace is Teachers Pay Teachers. They offer Free, low cost, units and so much more whether you are a homeschooler, special education teacher, general education teacher or otherwise, they have the sheets you need. Keeping my son engaged is key, so that he is not bored and remains productive during these school breaks. Consistently working on where he needs more academic 1:1 time in school subjects is why I continue to give him worksheets.
Parenting a special needs child has never been easy. There are no workbooks to really guide you on your journey, but one thing holds true is to not ever give up. Milestones will come and go and how your son or daughter matures and sees the world, but as long as you remain diligent in your journey, others will see how far your son or daughter has come.
Recently, we had to go take our son to an audiologist to get his hearing checked, due to a really bad ear infection that he had weeks earlier during Christmas Break. While my son was in the “hearing booth” with my hubby, the audiologist asked me about my son’s health and how his birth was, etc. I gently blurted out, “He’s autistic”. To which she responded, ‘Oh he doesn’t look autistic’ and ‘He is so relaxed and well mannered.’ To which I replied, “You have no idea how long it has taken to get to this point, but Thank You. Being consistent pays off, in the end it is all worth it.