Now that school is out, there is just an amazing amount of time to fill. For kids with special needs, this means that there is a lot of time to fill and all of us parents going insanely crazy.
So, what do you do with the special needs kiddo that you’ve either not been offered summer school for or declined it for various reasons so that they stay engaged and you don’t go nuts? Oh, and how do you deal with vacations with them?
The first thing in this whole game is to decide if you disclose your child’s special needs. Like in schooling, this has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. My choice is to disclose, because this way, my son’s counselors know that he may need small accommodations to make him successful, such as breaking down directions into small parts, maybe repeating things and presetting activities, especially at transition times.
Next is to find the right program. If it works for your child, it is the right program! We found the local park camp has been extremely amazing with Isaac and his needs. They even went so far this year as to when they saw he was attending again, to move his counselors up with him! It was amazing to have him back with Tim, Harry and Stephanie, who know him well and know all of his quirks.
One really fun thing to do is fun parks!
I hear everyone groaning. Fun parks with kids with ADHD and all of the other stuff.
I was in the same category, until I found out that almost every park has a variation of a special needs pass!
At Disney, they call it a SAP pass, at Six Flags, it’s a SNAP pass.
What this does is it makes it so that the kiddo or person with a disability can access the ride with one other person in their party through the exit for the duration of the day. The pass decreases wait times, makes it easier on the sensory kids with not so much sensory overload through the exit and allows for more flexibility during the day with the child at the fun park.
Let me do a bit more explaining how this works…
We took Isaac to Six Flags a few weeks ago, and I obtained one of these passes because I didn’t know about the crowd level or the type of sensory stimulation in the ques. It was nice to be able to bypass the ques that had the sensory overload of multiple televisions and loud noises before entering the ride that was a lot of sensory stimulation already. It made the day more manageable and more fun for everyone involved.
The last huge part of summer fun is vacations!
Taking your special needs kid along is sometimes a daunting prospect. You never, ever know what you will encounter on a vacation.
This year, we opted for two things-4 days at a dude ranch and then a mess of staycations that we could do in a day or overnight.
This proved to be the strategy that worked this year. The ranch (where I’m typing this post from), has proved to be an amazing experience. Isaac is able to go at his pace, do the scheduled activities or not do them at all. He has been able to take horse riding lessons for short bursts of time and learn how to handle a horse.
He’s not able to leave the corral yet and hit the back woods trails, but that’s not a a bad thing. He’s learning how to control a horse at his own pace and in small increments that allow for the most growth in the shortest amount of time. It has been quite the pleasant surprise for us, and I was quite wary when we made the choice to go. Now, I can’t think of something that would be better.
Our day trips haven’t started yet. We’re planning trips both in and out of state, such as aquariums, Ben and Jerry’s and Vermont Teddy Bear factory. These are all within a day’s drive and we can be back home. The most it will cost us is a tank of gas and a small admission fee.
Now, I’m back to my vacation, and my horse loving, free wheeling kiddle. I promise pictures when I come back and would love to hear about any other tips to have a great vacation with the special needs set!