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Happy summer! Time for a slower pace, a lot more free time, and more family adventures. However, for those with children with autism, ADHD, or anxiety, summer can feel like a major disruption to a well-oiled machine. With so much predictability out the window, and near constant transitions and changes, the summer has the potential to be a time of meltdowns, boredom, or uneasiness.

During the school year, your child is supported by a neurodivergent-friendly school environment, and a clear routine at home. Over the summer months, whether or not your child is attending the West Hills Academy Extended School Year program, setting up a supportive environment at home can allow your child to thrive during this often challenging time. 

As your child starts their summer, use these 4 tips to make it the relaxing one you’ve always imagined.

  • Establish Predictability and Routine

Children who are neurodivergent benefit from a more structured environment. In a world that is not always easy to understand, predicting their day-to-day gives them back some much needed control. Establishing daily routines and clear schedules can provide that sense of stability and security.

Visual aids, such as visual schedules or calendars, can help them understand and anticipate daily activities, reducing their anxiety and promoting independence. Sit down with them at the start of the summer to make a daily schedule, and even ask them to draw pictures to go with each activity.

  • Create Sensory-Friendly Spaces

Many children with autism, ADHD, and anxiety struggle with sensory sensitivities. Creating sensory-friendly spaces within your home can help them regulate their sensory experiences, and reduce behavior challenges.

Designate a quiet area where they can retreat when feeling overwhelmed. Consider your child’s individual sensory needs when creating this space. Some spaces might include noise-canceling headphones, soft lighting, weighted blankets, or fidget toys, while others might benefit from a trampoline, swing, or crash pad.

  • Embrace the Child’s Special Interests

If your child shows more intense and focused interests, encouraging them can serve as a source of motivation, engagement, and learning. Incorporate their interests into daily activities when you can, add some themed decorations to their room, and plan day trips that prioritize them. Including their interests not only encourages their unique passions, but also fosters a sense of self-identity and boosts confidence.

  • Foster Independence and Self-Advocacy

Supporting neurodiverse children in becoming self-reliant and advocating for themselves is essential for them to thrive. Use the additional time over the summer to encourage age-appropriate household responsibilities and provide opportunities for day-to-day decision-making. 

Focus on self-regulation strategies, problem-solving skills, and self-advocacy techniques when applicable. Empowering them to express their needs and preferences promotes their overall success and well-being.

Remember, as you embark on these summer months, it’s hard not to feel alone. However, the West Hills team is always here to support you. We are available to provide guidance, offer valuable strategies, and connect you with relevant resources that can further support your child at home. Reach out to us if you need advice on creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for your child.


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