Helping Kids with Autism Keep Up with Learning During Summer
There is no doubt the COVID-19 public health emergency caused many disruptions for kids and families during the previous school year. There has been a lot of physical, psychological and emotional upheaval for all students, but the impact has been even greater for those with autism and other developmental disabilities. These kids have been most affected because they have more difficulty adjusting to change, they need more assistance to learn, and they missed out on social opportunities which are vital to the development of abilities they need to better navigate life.
Now that the regular school year has ended, parents of kids with autism may be wondering what to do in the weeks until the new school year begins. It is likely many kids did not make as much progress during the last school year as they would have made if COVID-19 had not happened, and parents may be looking for ways to catch up or at least not lose any of the learning that was accomplished. They may also be wondering about how they can support their kids with their social skills development while we all ease back into normal life.
Summer school may be an answer for some kids, and the summer session can help kids keep up their learning. But this won’t be an option for all kids, and even for those who participate, the session only runs for a few weeks and still leaves a significant gap before the new school year starts.
With a little planning and effort, there are many things parents can do at home over the summer to help their kids be as ready as they can be when school resumes in the Fall. For parents looking for ideas, following are a few suggestions.
During the school year there are many websites that are used by teachers to add to your child’s learning experience in the classroom. These favorites can be helpful during summer and can be fun too!
- National Geographic offers a variety of classroom resources you can use at home.
- TMC Teachers offers free learn-at-home resources that are organized by grade level and activity type.
- ABC Mouse Early Learning Academy offers a full online curriculum. Organized into lessons for kids 2-8 and 8-13, these subscription-based resources are available via a free 30-day trial that is perfect for summer learning.
- Curriculum Associates offers printable at-home learning activity packs for math and reading for grades K-8. They also offer “guidance for families” with a helpful guide, introduction and technical support. Materials are available in English and Spanish.
- Education.com offers a learning library, with printable worksheets, games, guided lessons, lesson plans and more – organized by grade level, subject and topic – for kids from preschool through 5th grade.
- A kid favorite for years, Highlights offers free activity bundles.
Highlights for Children!
- Amplify offers videos, independent skills practice, read aloud lessons, novel guides, and guided skills practice for science, reading and more for grades K-8.
- Go Noodle is a free online resource that provides tons of ways for kids and families to be active, stay mindful and keep learning. Available in English and Spanish.
- For a screen-free option, Common Sense Media offers educational podcasts for kids of all ages. Some can even be downloaded so you don’t need to be connected to the internet to listen. Explore the entire site for many other suggestions and resources.
Social Skills Resources
Social skills help individuals function more effectively in social situations, and there are a few websites that can help parents cultivate skills their kids need to create positive interactions with others.
- If your child has an Individualize Education Program (IEP), use time this summer to explore and better understand your child’s plan. The IEP is a written document that is created through a team effort and is reviewed once a year. The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) website offers a wealth of information that can help you better understand the IEP process, your rights and what to ask for when school resumes.
- If your child was receiving school-based behavioral therapy during the regular school year, continuing these services during the summer – either via in-home services or via telehealth – may be an option you’ll want to consider. In addition, social skills groups offered via telehealth may also be valuable. Lastly, if you need a break from your daily caregiving duties or help managing all the demands of daily life over the summer, you may want to explore traditional or specialized respite care services. For help determining if these services are right for you and your family, and for assistance with next steps in the process, please request a consult for a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation.