The term ‘school holidays’ can cause stress for any parent; how will you keep your kids entertained? Where will you take them? For those bringing up a child with autism, the school holidays pose even more of an issue as they threaten to change their much-loved routine. Changes in routine can cause stress for an autistic child and trying to think of day trips can be littered with potential crises.
John Williams is a single father to his 10-year-old son who suffers from autism and cerebral palsy. John has learnt (mainly through trial and error) which day trips are the most stress free and which ones prove problematic.
First off, John advises against museums. While they might be full of educational exhibits, to a young autistic child who may not understand the difference between reality and make-believe, the museum can be a scary place. Especially when you consider the Natural History Museum has an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex…
One place John has found consistently good to take his son is the bowling alley. There is routine at a bowling alley that feels reassuring to a child with autism – the movements stays the same, you bowl the ball, knock down the pins and repeat.
John’s top tips for going bowling:
Arrive early: Having to queue will only agitate your child so try to avoid the busy periods and go when it is the quietest.
Select a quiet lane: Other people can cause stress and agitation for your child, so try to pick a lane that’s as far away from other people as possible.
Be prepared to answer questions about the shoes: For a child with autism the concept of swapping your shoes for a pair hundreds of other people have worn can be traumatic, be prepared to answer questions about this.
Use the gutter guard: The disappointment of bowling in the gutter could ruin the entire trip, so be cautious and use a gutter guard.
Don’t win: While of course it is important to teach your child the concept of losing, a day trip during the holidays may not be the best time.
Coping with autism and the struggles that come with it can be tough to deal with. Speaking to a counsellor who is experienced in the subject could help you discuss any issues you face and deal with them in a healthy way. For more information, please see our Asperger’s Syndrome page.
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