Keeping Your Child with Autism Engaged Over Summer Break - Harbor School

Keeping Your Child with Autism Engaged Over Summer Break

Keeping Your Child with Autism Engaged Over Summer Break

For children on the autism spectrum, changes in routine – such as extended time off from school – can be stressful. As a parent or caregiver, having a plan in place to help ease the transition and provide distractions can help to avoid meltdowns and prevent regression from the progress they made during the school year. 

Keeping your child with autism engaged over summer break is not always easy, so we have some ideas to help you start planning a fun and relaxing summer. Even if your child attends summer school as part of their IEP, these ideas can help you plan family activities and day trips to help expand your child’s horizon while creating lifelong memories. 

Autism-Friendly Destinations in New Jersey

For families in New Jersey and the surrounding areas, these destinations pride themselves on being all-inclusive and sensory-friendly spaces for children and families to enjoy themselves without judgment or undue stress.

  • Jake’s Place – a nationally ranked, award-winning all-inclusive playground whose mission is to provide all-inclusive play opportunities for children and adults with special needs through advocacy, awareness building, programming, building playgrounds, and sharing their expertise with like-minded individuals and organizations. 
  • Trailside Nature and Science Center – this Nature Preserve offers an opportunity for children and families to connect with and learn about nature. In addition to their sensory-friendly nature trails, the Center offers a media center, a children’s discovery room, a night theatre, and various camp programs and workshops for children of all ages. 
  • Allaire Community Farm – a 501(c)3 NJ non-profit organization whose motto is “Nurture through Nature”. The farm offers programs, events, and community outreach that utilizes animal therapy, organic gardening, and vocational training. Programs that are open to the public include a petting zoo, wagon rides, barrel train rides, and horseback riding lessons, as well as specialized riding lessons for children and adults with disabilities.
  • Heart of Surfing – a non-profit organization that offers free surfing and skateboarding lessons for families with autism or other developmental disabilities. Their mission is to create positive experiences for individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities through fun recreational activities and community engagement. 
  • 1 Gym 4 All – a small, family-owned business whose goal is to provide the community with a sensory gym that gives children with all abilities an opportunity to play while accommodating their sensory needs in a fun and inclusive environment. Fun features include organized arts and crafts, a zip line, a trampoline, a rope wall, swings, monkey bars, and more. 

Ideas For Keeping Your Child Engaged at Home 

During the summer, some days, you just want to sit back and relax in the comfort of your own home. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t find fun and creative ways to keep your child with autism engaged.

  • Sensory Bin Activities – sensory bins are a great way to keep your child occupied and come in a wide variety to appeal to every child’s sensory needs. Sensory bins can include items such as uncooked pasta or beans, kinetic sand, moldable foam, and water beads, just to name a few. You can either purchase sensory bins, which come in a wide array of themes, or you can have even more fun by making and customizing them at home.
  • Arts and Crafts – children and adults of all ages love arts and crafts, and it is a great way to bring the family together, and the best thing about it is the only limit is our imagination! From finger painting to collage making and watercolors to crocheting, there are so many different activities to try. As a bonus, it is also a fun and engaging way for your child to practice their fine motor skills. 
  • Bake Something Together – baking is a fun, family activity that can also be educational as precise measuring is often required. Not only does it give your child a chance to practice their math skills, it’s also a way to help teach them independent living skills and how to follow step-by-step directions while boosting their self-confidence. Not to mention that the whole family will get to enjoy a delicious dessert or savory treat at the end.

Of course, these are just a handful of ideas to help keep your child with autism engaged over summer break. As always, the most important thing is to listen to your child’s needs. Maintaining basic household routines such as mealtimes and bedtimes can also help your child have a smooth transition into the summer break with minimal disruption and stress. 

amy brandon principal Harbor School

Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.

Amy Brandon, 
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ