Transitions of any kind can cause tension for children with sensory processing challenges, as well as children with developmental issues. The summer break transition is no exception.
While we all look forward to a break from the hectic school year, some continued routine will help our children with the change.
Establish a daily routine. Children with developmental delays or sensory processing challenges can be super-sensitive to changes in routines and schedules. Continue with regular bed, nap, and wake-up times to ease stress. Although summer break allows for later bed times and wake-up times, our children need to maintain their regular sleeping and eating patterns to avoid meltdowns and tantrums.
Limit unstructured unsupervised time and use of electronic media. Unstructured time can be frustrating for children, especially for children with ideational praxis issues (difficulty formulating new plans and ideas) and children with poor social skills. A little planning and guidance for activity choice will go a long way.
Schedule daily movement activities and gross motor time. Summer break is the perfect time to get the family moving. Set up a weekly routine and have scheduled bike rides, hikes, swimming pool time, hopscotch, and other structured family outdoor play.
Work sensory play into your routine. Set up an area outside for a variety of sensory tactile play and change the activities as much as possible. Painting, sidewalk chalk, a sand box or sand table, dry rice and beans, Play-Doh, shaving cream, and homemade floam and slime are a few ideas. There are tons of great tactile play recipes on Pinterest and the kids have a blast making them. Shaving cream on the slide followed by a rinse in the sprinkler is a favorite at our house.
A family calendar will help children prepare for upcoming family events. Social stories are also a great addition to prepare for family trips or summer family gatherings.
Finally, good nutrition and healthy eating will keep our kids happy and healthy.
Always remember to use a good sunblock and limit sun exposure. Sensory kids can be especially sensitive to sun and might also benefit from protective eye wear.
Play with a purpose and have a wonderful and safe summer break.
From our family to yours,
Melissa Hough, OTR/L, C/NDT
Melissa Hough, OTR/L, C/NDT is an occupational therapist with over 20 years of pediatric experience and certifications in Sensory Integration (SI) and Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT). Melissa has a professional and personal perspective when working with children because she is also the adoptive parent of a child with special needs.
Since 2002, Children’s Therapy Center, PSC has served thousands of families in Louisville, Kentucky, by providing high-quality therapy services and parent education.