Gearing Up For Summer

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As Memorial Day approaches and marks the official start to Summer, here are a few safety (and sanity) tips for parents and families of children with autism, sensory processing disorders or other special needs.

Team Up

- If your child resorts to fight or flight mode when they feel overwhelmed or experience high levels of anxiety, it’s always a good idea to share this information with friends, family members, neighbors and especially local authorities.

Speak Up

- A simple visit to your Sheriff's Department or police department to provide them with a photo of your child, contact information and details about what dangers your child is drawn to (water, animals, high places) can provide you with added comfort and peace of mind.

Print Up

- Some parents create a special T-shirt, identification bracelet, or dog-tag-type necklace with vital information for their vulnerable children. Several choices are available, so tailor it to your child.

Gather Up

- To keep preparation for outings, parades and picnics a little less hectic, always have a bag packed, ready to go, with sunscreen, hats, blanket, bug spray, medications, camera, extra undies/diapers, wet wipes, snacks, bubbles and an umbrella.

Buy Up

- Depending on what type of event or activity is on the day’s schedule, there may be some waiting involved (for the parade to start, in line for their turn or even in traffic) which allows time for unexpected behaviors to occur. Pick up a new little toy or something appropriate to amuse your child until the waiting is over.

Divide Up

- When taking the family to a parade, consider possible seating locations carefully, if your special child needs a shady or quieter area, you may want to “stake your claim” early with lawn chairs, rope, or a couple of old blankets. You may even consider splitting up the family’s arrival times.

Link Up

- If the family decides to divide up at an event or location, have a pre-arranged meeting place if anyone should get lost. This is also convenient for reconvening after the event or activity concludes.

Break Up

- Breaking up a marathon day of activities into small portions of quiet time, or even going home, might be wise to help ensure everyone is lasting through the parade, family BBQ and fireworks.

Light Up

- Even seemingly simple “sparklers” can burn the hands children (and adults) of all abilities. Swapping sparklers for glow sticks provides safe, inexpensive fun.

Rest Up

- Everyone will be pretty wiped out, so don’t plan anything that next day or two if possible. You all need a quiet, simple day with fairly normal routines.

Follow Up

- After it’s all over, evaluate the day and jot down some adjustments for next year, building even more family memories and holiday traditions.

Chin Up

- Keep smilin’ and carry on! With a little extra prep and consideration, your summer time activities will become more enjoyable and less stressful.
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