How to help your child with Autism survive the School Holidays

Routine is a key part in ensuring a happy child, especially those on the Autism spectrum and the most important part of that routine for my boys is school.

This has been a difficult year as the Pandemic has disrupted that routine, but thankfully we managed to enjoy a return to school before too much damage was done.

As any parent of children on the spectrum will testify you have to fight for any precious support available, but thankfully a good school can become an oasis of support. Teachers and Special Needs Assistants become not only educators but speech and language therapists, OT support and allow our children to grow with a structured routine and development plan.

With busy lives, no matter how hard we try as parents, many of us can't replicate the excellent support and routine our children receive in their schools.  

That is why School holidays can have such an impact on both children and parents and also why some children can regress during time away from the support and routine of school.

Now if your children are anything like mine, they will moan about having to get up, get dressed and go to school but they do miss it when the holidays come. This is because routine provides a structure, a sense of control and a safe place which is a source of comfort.

Without routine, I find my children’s anxiety increases, I see an increase in meltdowns and their ability to deal with sensory issues deteriorates.

Now you may think, well they have to have a rest sometimes, but I’d argue that without a routine it makes the inevitable return to school a difficult situation and stressful for both you and your child.

Creating a flexible holiday routine and introducing it at the start of the holidays can help mitigate and reduce any issues. 

That’s why I have put together a sample holiday routine checklist that any child can use, which can help maintain a routine, but still allows you and your children to enjoy time off from school.  

The aim of a holiday routine is to ensure you and your children know what to expect each day, without overly restricting your family’s activities.

The positive outcome of using a flexible holiday routine should be that your children know what’s expected of them, but they are not to put out should things change.

Having this reassurance will help them feel less anxious and allow them to be prepared for the fun of each day. It will also make a return to school a less stressful experience for everyone. 

Remember it doesn’t need to be strict and it also doesn’t need to be tied to set times. Also ensure you include time for fun as much as possible, they are on holiday after all.

Here’s a sample holiday routine that I’ve put together for my own children which I hope you will find useful. You can download a copy here.

Holiday Routine chart 

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