Although summer provides families with relaxation and extended breaks from school and daily routines, for parents who have children with special needs, summer does not necessarily equate to lazy mornings, daily beach visits or spontaneous family activities. The season can be a terrifying time and one of our biggest fears is regression, also known as the “summer slide.”

Families like mine must work harder at fostering a culture of empowerment and autonomy throughout the summer to ensure their child does not lose the skills they worked so hard to develop throughout the school year.

While in school, our children have access to elevated levels of supports. Once summer vacation begins and consistent instruction ends, families experience a significant drop in services and supports they have come to depend on. To minimize the effects of the summer slide, we encourage families to create a strength-based activity schedule to keep your child engaged and learning over the hottest months of the year.

Here are suggestions for summer supports and services your family may be interested in pursuing:

Extended School Year (ESY) – If your child qualifies, you may wish to explore ESY services which extend and reinforce your child’s IEP goals and benchmarks learned throughout the year.

Summer Camp – Whether day or overnight, the camp experience serves as a catalyst for personal growth. Children who attend summer camp experience an increase in socialization skills, life skills, independence, and flexibility. Most special recreation associations have 1:1 support aides and counselors to assist individuals with special needs.

Tutoring Sessions – Depending on your child’s individual needs, hiring a tutor to maintain or increase their skills over the summer may prove beneficial.

Volunteering – Volunteering opportunities can help reinforce social skills, learning new skills and flexibility. Find out what your child is enthusiastic about and inquire about volunteer opportunities within your community.

If you feel more comfortable managing your child’s calendar over the summer and have the time and resources to keep them engaged, here are some best practices to consider:

Maintain a Consistent Routine – Knowing what to expect each day will make it easier for children to behave appropriately and cope with transitions.

Increase Life Skills/Independence – Depending on their age, allowing your loved one to make their own decisions is the greatest form of independence that can often increase self-confidence. Becoming proficient in household chores such as laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and shopping for groceries are essential life skills that serve as a pathway for living more independently.

Have Fun – Although coordinating family activities can be challenging, appreciating time together as a family, with shared moments, laughter and the occasional blunder are what make lasting memories.

We hope everyone has a wonderful summer!

If you have any questions regarding summer supports and services, please contact Oak Wealth Advisors.

Please find important disclosures about this resource HERE.