Summer Break: What Zak Will Be Doing and Ideas for Other Children with Autism

May 10, 2012

Lego's

School is almost out which means summer break is fast approaching.  I wanted to share what Zak will be doing this summer to hopefully help you get some good ideas on what to do with your kiddos.  Summer is a time for fun, but it is a great time to continue to work towards your child’s goals towards improvement.  You do not need to sacrifice fun for working towards goals.  Zak will continue with his regular therapies (see the What We are Doing page) but with school out, he has more time in his schedule to allow him to really focus on an area of weakness for him and most all children with Autism:  Social Skills.  This is an area we continue to put a great portion of our focus.  Social skills are critical to function in society & Zak struggles with components of social interaction, especially self regulation.  In many cases children with Autism need to be taught and practice the rules of social interaction, especially perspective taking.  These skills are critical to function not only in social settings and with friends, but they are also critical for academic success and adulthood.  Tasks that require abstract thinking also require social thinking skills such as written expression, reading comprehension, and even organization & the planning of assignments.

For the second year, Zak will be attending camp 4 days a week, three hours a day to focus on social thinking and social skills.  The name of Zak’s camp program is called Kamp Talk A’lot which is through Pediatric Speech and Language Specialists founded by Anita Werner (little plug because we love this place).  This camp is designed to stimulate language and social interaction.  It is an opportunity for Zak to participate in an intensive pragmatic language experience (Pragmatic language is the use of communication for the purpose of interactive or social communication).  The great thing about this camp is Zak is learning critical skills in a fun environment with both socially challenged and neurotypical children (ZAKSSISTER will be attending as well).  I encourage you to research social skills camp availability in your area and to visit the Pediatric Speech and Language Specialists website (http://www.pediatricspeech.net/) to help with what to look for in your area.  To supplement the social skills therapies and camp there is also a great line of books to help you work with your child directly.  I highly recommend the Social Detective & Superflex books, written by Michelle Garcia Winner, to utilize at home to either start or supplement social skills training.  Superflex is a strategy for teaching younger (primarily 2nd-5th grade) students how to regulate their behaviors.  This teaching approach is used to build students own inner superheroic thinking to take on various challenges (meltdowns as an example), as represented by Unthinkable cartoon characters.  I have had the pleasure of seeing her speak at a few Autism conferences and sought out her training concepts and strategies, which led me to Zak’s camp.   How ingenious to use a superhero to teach our kiddos.  You can find them on our Bookstore page by entering “Superflex” in the search box.

Zak will also be attending a weeklong camp that centers around one of his passions – LEGOS.  This will give him a chance to do something he loves while practicing his social skills!  We have taken the advice of Temple Grandin who encourages parents to utilize Autistic children’s passions and obsessions – someday they could turn into a career.  ZAKSDAD and I took the kids to a science fair and found a great company called Bricks4Kidz (http://www.bricks4kidz.com/).  We think he will love getting the chance to build LEGOS and maybe someday become a “Lego engineer”.  Another passion is water slides, but we are not sure that he is ready to build those yet – but he sure does love trying them out!  Water park of America….here we come.

Don’t stop working towards your goals during the summer.  Keep advocating for your child.  Find something fun for them to do while working on their area(s) of weakness.   I did some searching and there are tons of options for camps for special needs kids all over the country & even the world.  Camps are not cheap, but find a way.  Talk to someone at the camp for discount options, extended payment options or try to find state funding or payment through your insurance.  It is an investment that you can’t afford not to do.

Ever been kissed by a superhero?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Munro May 12, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Hi Zaks Mom, I just posted this in LinkedIn and saw a post to your blog. One other activity you may want to do is use our phone based social conversation tool Mobi-RolePlay. We are giving parents free access to this tool and it would be something that could reinforce what Zak will be doing with the Pediatric Speech Specialist.

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Tiffany June 26, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Can’t thank you enough for the recommendation for Bricks 4 Kidz!! Wishing Zak a great summer!

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