It is here!

The countdown is on its last few days.

Until….

SUMMER!!!!

It is a time for a change of schedule. Time for a break from the demands of school, work, in-person versus on line, stress and more.

Because after this long year it is a welcome time, almost more so than years before.

With the world opening up more and more there are options for our children that they did not have last year. And we would have to stretch our brains to remember just what summer looked like before the pandemic hit. I know I have to take a pause and think Oh, yeah! We DID have a membership to the pool that year! or Hey, I remember, Elizabeth loved going to volunteer that last summer.

So as we look forward to June, July and August I wanted to share with you some lessons we learned about summer on our journey with our daughter Elizabeth. For those who don’t know, Elizabeth has special needs. She has sensory processing disorder(SPD) and global dyspraxia. Both of her disorders have made life hard work for her each day.

She is soon to be 24 years old so we have a lot of summers in the rear view mirror and a lot of experiences to share

So here we go:

Summer is a time to relax but also work on skills

Summer is a time full of, well, time. So maybe now is a great time to find that one skill that you have been wanting to work on during the year but simply could not do it then. For us, one summer we worked on buttons, zippers and snaps. We did it daily and made it one thing we tried to accomplish. So maybe find that one skill or something you want to do and use this time to work on it.

Summer is a time to lose a schedule

Nothing says summer like time off. Ask my son if you don’t believe me. So saying goodbye to the schedule for him is an easy choice. But for our children with special needs, losing the schedule can create stress and can take them time to adjust whatever their new schedule is. So helping them adjust is really critical.

Summer is a time to keep a schedule

On the flip side of the above is the fact that our children need a schedule, something to give their days shape. Everyone knows their child’s needs for a schedule best but for us, a daily schedule helped and helps Elizabeth know what the day holds and helps her stay organized. When she was younger, the schedule helped her transition better as well. So I guess it is goodbye to one schedule and hello the the summer version.

Summer is a time to put away the school notebook

We used to make a big production out of the “cleaning out of the backpack” It was done on the afternoon of the last day of school. We tossed old stuff out, flung the backpacks into the basement and welcomed summer. It was a ceremony of sorts but my kids also knew that their bridge workbooks were waiting for them to work on.

Summer is a time to take notes

I know I like to think I can remember details well, but I must say I write down a lot of notes to help me. So I say, no matter how much you think you will remember about all the things your special needs child has done this summer, I have to say, you probably won’t remember it all. So now is the time to get a fresh notebook out and once a week or so, write down all the successes or struggles your child has. Write down what they learned, skills they worked on, how they handled a challenge. This will help you as you approach your child’s new educator in the fall.

Summer is a time to do a lot of things

Summer is a time to know “more is not always better”

I learned this early on in life with Elizabeth when she kept melting down in the afternoon. I would try to distract her with an activity or time outside playing but it was our beautiful therapist, Mary, who told me those words and that Elizabeth needed time to decompress not something else to do, even playing. It is important to know your child and their needs but the above is what I learned that carries me to this day.

Summer is a time to enjoy…the way your child needs to

I put this in because sometimes Elizabeth needed time home even on a sunny day where others were at the pool. And I learned it was OK. Knowing your child’s needs means allowing them to be who they are and helping them be their best.

Summer is a time to cherish all the good things….even the little ones!

Celebrate the good things. Celebrate the little things. Celebrate the things that maybe others wouldn’t because they are important to your child. We have celebrated the tiniest of things and have lived off those successes for a long time.

It all matter for our children.

I hope you enjoy it all. from the start of your first day on.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of I Believe In You a Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey