Helping Kids with Autism Keep Up with Learning During Summer

Helping Kids with Autism Keep Up with Learning During Summer 460 306 bh360

child being home-schooled

Helping Kids with Autism Keep Up with Learning During Summer

June 23, 2020 | Judith S. Cohen, Psy.D., LMFT

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.

Learning Resources

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!

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.

Other Resources

  • 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.

About the Author

Dr. Judith S. Cohen’s background includes 33 years as a school psychologist, which includes 29 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and four years with a school system in New Jersey. After retiring from LAUSD in 2011, Dr. Cohen’s passion for children led her to a new role as an educational advocate, where she helped families in need obtain a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Dr. Cohen currently serves as the School District Coordinator for California Psychcare, a position she has held since January 2016. Her goal is to have every child with special needs get a FAPE through their IEP with appropriate goals, services and educational placement. Dr. Cohen is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) and has been in practice since the 90’s.

Judith S. Cohen Psy.D., LMFT

Coordinator – School Districts
California Psychcare, Inc.

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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) / Behavioral Therapy – Home Based

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, refers to a variety of treatment options that are based on the principles of behavior analysis. ABA uses scientifically-based techniques for understanding and changing behavior, and is the most widely accepted approach to assess and intervene with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental challenges or delays. This type of therapy is conducted one-on-one, is customized for each person, and is appropriate for individuals of all ages.

Telehealth Therapy
Telehealth Services

Telehealth is rapidly growing in the field of ABA-based behavioral therapy and improves access to care for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental disabilities. Telehealth is as simple as using a tablet or computer to connect face-to-face with your ABA service providers, similar to how you may chat with family or friends who may live out-of-town.

social therapy
Social Skills Training

Our social skills training help individuals function more effectively in social situations and cultivates skills needed to create positive interactions with others. Delivered at one of our behavioral health treatment centers, we offer age-based groups for kids, preteens, teens, and young adults. Our groups are conducted in a comfortable setting where individuals with developmental disabilities can develop and practice their social skills with peers on a regular basis.

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Traditional In-Home Respite

Traditional in-home respite is appropriate for individuals of all ages and is available in situations when the parent or primary caregiver has a need for temporary relief or assistance with caregiver responsibilities.

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Specialized Personal Assistance

Specialized Personal Assistance is an enhanced service for individuals who have more challenging behaviors – like physical or verbal aggression, property destruction, self-injury, self-stimulation, or elopement – and therefore need more support than traditional in-home respite can provide. The service is appropriate for individuals of any age.

For more articles, visit our Stay Informed page.

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