School is out and summer is here! There are so many fun things to do now that the weather is warmer and schedules aren't as hectic. Families everywhere are planning trips to the beach, picnics in the park or sunny afternoons poolside. Although many kids look forward to these activities, some children and adolescents have difficulty processing so much stimulation. For some kids, typical summer activities can feel unbearable even when the goal is to have fun. Noises, bright lights, crowds or even a schedule that doesn't go according to plan, can be too much for to manage. Planning ahead is key, so while you're planning the outing and packing your bags, consider the following tips to make sure everyone has a great time.
1. Bring a small bag with some of the child's favorite items. Having familiar objects available can be calming. Special toys, books, iPods for music or favorite snacks are good to have on hand. Other items may include, noise cancelling headphones, weighted vest or lap pad, sunglasses, objects to chew on or gum, fidget toys (i.e. silly putty, tangles, fidget cube, etc.)
2. Plan a timeout space. If you have been to a particular venue or event before, plan ahead by identifying a quiet space your child can visit if they need a break. If you are new to the location, take a few moments upon arriving to find an area where everyone can relax if needed.
3. Give yourself extra time. This includes while planning your summer adventure. Spend time talking about the outing with your child prior to going. This may include days ahead of time. If the child is old enough, allow them to help plan the outing. As you head out for summer fun, allow time for breaks, transitions between activities and unforeseen changes in the schedule.