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Amanda Joy Friedman MSEd, SBL
Amanda Joy Friedman MSEd, SBL

Sensory-Friendly Summer Fun!

No melting or meltdowns! Sensory tips to survive the dog days of summer!

Get out there and have some fun! Respecting kids and their needs helps all have a great time!

1. Keep them hydrated, well snacked, and as bug bite and sun-burn free as possible. Set a timer while playing outside to remind you in the midst of all your fun to sip some water, have some fruit, and load up on bug spray and suntan lotion. For kids with sensory issues, the sprays are quick and easy and just as effective as the traditional pasty and smelly lotions.

2. Although spontaneity is liberating and fun for us, for kids on the spectrum it can lead to anxiety. It’s best to make a schedule for the day, you can share it verbally as a reminder, or create a quick word document with some pictures of the activities you have planned. If you want to leave room for something “off the cuff” make sure you say “something different” or a “surprise” is possible so they aren’t caught off guard.

3. There are some water parks that have special days set aside for families with children with special needs, also that make accommodations including front of the line passes to avoid waiting too long for rides. Know where you are going ahead of time, bring a map and set rules with your kids about staying together and stranger danger.

4. Check local newspapers and online calendars for free concerts in the neighborhood – bring friends and family to offer extra support and make it a community event  Remember it’s important for you to enjoy yourself too – if someone offers their help so you can get up and dance for a song or two, take it!

5. Contact your local parks and recreation to find out about “barrier free parks” which are designed to be supportive to kids with motor-planning, balance, and safety difficulties. Also, good to know which ones have sprinklers and free kids activities – many cities provide art and music activities during certain hours.

6. At home, on the deck, in the yard, or in the mini-pool – Shaving cream & food coloring make for hours of imaginative, colorful sensory fun!

7. Build motor-planning, listening, and social skills with the greatest basic – PLAY BALL! It’s not just catch – rolling the ball, bowling, holding, carrying, passing to friends, kicking, catching, batting, tapping, drumming, bouncing, etc. You catch the drift! Have fun and get excited.

8. Use outdoor furniture or sports fun stations to make back yard obstacle courses!

9. Follow the leader around the block, yard, or house!

10. Bring on the instruments and bubbles – have a dance party and create a fun ambiance with a bubble machine, or lay out an array of bubble wands, buckets with soapy water, and even a slip and slide!

11. Have a Pirate’s Booty Blast – Give out eye patches, tie-dye bandanas (outside not in!) and go on a scavenger hunt! You can even make your own boats and set them out to sea!

12. Research online and local advocacy organizations for special needs camps, social groups, and other recommendations of programs available in the community.

13. You might be able to get reimbursement for some of your summer fun excursions – look into respite, summer camp funding, recreation, and family support programs through grants and advocacy programs!

About the Author
Amanda Joy Friedman MSEd, SBL

Amanda Friedman, MSEd, SBL, is the founder and executive director of the Atlas School/Atlas Foundation for Autism.

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