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12/12/2016 | BehaviorOtherPlaySensorySpeech and language

Top Ten Tips for the Summer Break

The summer holidays are fast approaching here in Aus, and while many of us are looking forward to a relaxing few weeks of not having to get up and rush out the door each day, the holidays can in fact be a difficult time for some of our children with developmental differences. Here are our top ten tips for helping our kids cope with change and build their language skills over the holidays.

  1. PRE-WARN.

Talk to your child about the upcoming holidays. Use a calendar to count down the last days of school, then to count down how many days until the next big event (e.g. how many days until Christmas day, until leaving for a trip, until returning home from a trip etc.).

  1. USE A VISUAL SCHEDULE.

Print a series of google images, or draw simple pictures down an A4 page, to show your child what is going to happen each day. Talk with your child about each activity before they happen, and tick off each picture afterwards.

  1. PROBLEM SOLVE IN ADVANCE.

With your older child, discuss ‘problems’ that may come up over the holidays and brainstorm possible solutions in advance. For example, for the touch sensitive child, talk about how when Grandma comes to visit, she may want to give him a hug. Brainstorm with your child what each of you could do in each situation (e.g. “We could ask Grandma to give you a high five instead”).

  1. USE TIMERS.

Show your child how long certain events will take, or how long they have to wait for certain events to take place. You may use a Time Timer (clock, app and watch versions available here www.timetimer.com or here: suelarkey.com.au/product/time-timer-watch-plus/) or iPhone timer, or refer the older child to read the time on their own watch.

  1. USE PHOTOS TO PREPARE.

Show your child photos of what is coming up these holidays – will you be seeing specific family members? Are you traveling somewhere specific? Turn family photos (or google images) into a simple Social Story, with one photo and a fact statement on each page (e.g. “These holidays, we might see Grandma”, “These holidays, we might go to Philip Island” etc.). Read this story together each night.

  1. USE PHOTOS TO RETELL.

As most of us have a smart phone these days, this tip’s a nice one – during eventful (or even non-eventful!) days, take a few photos of what your child does that day. That evening, find a few quiet moments to look through the photos together, and “tell the story” of your child’s day back to her. Don’t expect your child to join in telling the story (they may, but this is not essential); simply focus on having your child tune in and enjoy hearing your recap of what they got up to.

  1. INVOLVE YOUR CHILD.

More often than not, the young child desperately wants to be a part of things that are happening around them. Involving your child in tasks in an age-appropriate way can make them feel important, and can actually be the best remedy for bored holiday behaviour. Think of ways to include your child in tasks. For example, if you are packing to go away, ask your child to find certain clothing items and put them in the appropriate suitcase. If you are busily preparing a festive meal, have your child set the table or help you stir the cake mixture. On a busy family day, give your child the job of handing out party hats. Whatever the job, make sure it is something the child CAN do, and that you thank them sincerely for it; they will love feeling included.

  1. BE AWARE OF AUDITORY OVERLOAD.

On busy days, your child (and you!) may benefit from some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle. Pre-warn your child that the day may get noisy, and pre-equip them with strategies they can use (e.g. “You can go to your room and play with your Lego”, “You can put your headphones on and listen to some music” etc.). It’s perfectly ok to take some time out.

  1. COMMUNICATE CLEARLY.

Always tell your child what TO do instead of what NOT to do. For example, instead of “Don’t undo your seatbelt”, try “Seatbelts stay on”.

  1. ENCOURAGE SOCIAL INTERACTION.

Make sure your child gets plenty of child-lead playtime and social interaction. Try getting out to the park, library, swimming pool or zoo (show photos and talk about the outing before you go!). Also see here for our tips on how to host a successful play date – www.sensationalkids.com.au/the-keys-to-a-successful-play-date

 

Alyssa Murray (nee Mann)

Speech Pathologist

Expert DIR / Floortime Provider

Sensational Kids Moonee Ponds

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