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The Necessary Skills My Son With Autism Will Be Practicing This Summer


Last summer, my children somehow thought summer meant they didn’t have to do anything but exactly what they wanted. Where they got that idea from, I don’t know. Our summers have never been that way. We do take time to have fun and adventures, but it isn’t, “I get to stay in my pj’s all day, unlimited amounts of TV and have my food brought to me all summer,” time.

Life Skills

We often don’t have a lot of time to work on life skills with the kids during the school year. There are many doctor’s appointments and other parts of our lives that take presedence due to my son’s autism and many other medical issues. Each summer I have a goal that we work on, regarding one aspect of a life skill. The first year I did this, I focused on learning how to clean. That year I set aside one hour each day to clean one room of the house. If we got done before the hour was up, great! If we needed more time in a room, that meant we started there the next day. The goal was to all work together and be able to teach my kids how to clean. Another year we focused on learning how to do laundry. Last summer was cooking. (Last summer blew up in my face so we didn’t get very far. I’ll have to work it back in probably next summer.) As my children do daily chores the year round, once they have learned a new skill, that can go into the rotation of chores they do.

Keeping Up Knowledge

Both of my children can use some stretching in reading genres. During the summer, I have them read 30 minutes a day from a book off one of my bookcases. My bookcases are filled with carefully curated books over many years of my life. (Did I mention I’m a bibliophile?) My kids read a lot, so 30 minutes is reasonable to read in a day. Any other reading after the 30 minutes can be any book they want. This summer I hope to get them to put some focus on biographies.

Physical Skills

We usually have a physical skill goal as well. Last year my son finally learned to ride his bike. This year he will probably be working on learning how to swim better. My daughter still does not ride her bike because she wants to do things only if she can get it right the first time. She will be not so excitedly working on that.This year my husband tells me my goals are too ambitious. I think my children can rise to the occasion.
The first half of the list are things they have to do every morning before leaving for school anyway. It’s nothing new. As they have more time in the summer, more is expected. One of the things I decided to have them do this year is to help someone or do something nice for someone. I want my kids to start thinking about others and what they might need. I want my kids to become thoughtful adults, and I think the only way to achieve that is practicing now. Wish me luck!

A version of this story originally appeared on An Ordinary Mom.

Getty image by Kraig Scarbinsky