I know it is only the end of April.

And I know that for some of us, we might still be picking up left over Easter grass from the baskets.  But even though this may indeed be the case…….

Summer is coming.

I have always thought that planning for a child with special needs is a lot like the way seasons go in the retail world.  When winter coats are on the racks right around Labor Day.  Or when you can buy Christmas Candy literally the day after your kids go trick or treating,

Meaning, that it is necessary, in my opinion, to investigate options, make plans and think about summer goals, well?, pretty much, now!

Now is the time to look up any camps you wish your child to attend.  Number one to see if they have a sign up deadline ( yep, ask me that story another time) and secondly to see if they are going to have the camp this year( and yep, this too is another story).

Now is the time to talk to any and all therapists that you hope will work with your child this summer.  Because I have seen how fast a summer schedule for them can fill up either with a caseload of children or if the therapist, themselves need time off to be with their children or for vacation.  One year, between our vacation week, the therapists vacation time, their need to be off for something their child needed, I watched the entire month of July just kind of “Poof” away.  I am not saying that there was anything wrong at all with any of the above.  I am saying that what made it a bit of a struggle was that I did not think to ask in advance so we could adjust accordingly.

Now is the time to reread that IEP!  I say this because by rereading it and the goals, you can pick out some goals you would like to work on with your child this summer.  I know that the one summer between fifth and sixth grade,  I used the IEP to plan some “learning times” for Elizabeth.  I know we worked on some Occupational Therapy goals and some life skills.   For a child with special needs, this kind of follow up in the summer is so helpful and really critical to keep the child from losing skills over the summer. So for us it was OT goals but we also did reading, writing and, not to be cliché, but arithmetic as well.

And now is also the time to think about trips and outings that you are planning to take.  By this I mean, it is the time to think about how and when to start explaining them to your child.  Maybe it is a social story, maybe it is a video on the internet that will help your child see and understand what to expect. For a child with Sensory Processing Disorder(SPD) understanding what to expect can really decrease their anxiety as well as yours.  We are planning a trip to Florida this summer.  Truthfully, central Florida, the home of the big mouse…yes!  Disney!  So for us, the talking has begun already and we have watched a number of videos on the internet to help Elizabeth keep her anxiety as low as possible.

I know that it is hard to put things on the calendar in ink at this point.  But some early thinking and planning allows the summer to take a gentle form.  One that can be adjusted or changed, but also one that gives some security to you and your special needs child.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti

Author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister”