What We Take Away From a Break from School

Ann Hickman by Ann Hickman Additional Needs

Ann Hickman

Ann Hickman

Mum to three, special educational needs writer and part-time tutor

School holidays can be a tough time for many kids, and especially ones like ours.

We have three beautiful, delightful and cheeky kids – two of whom happen to be autistic.

And whereas one cries the day before returning to school, the other one cries in the few days after he stops going.

It’s when David realises it’s not just a weekend and he’s not returning to school anytime soon.

When we first realised this, we thought that the best way to help David was to create a routine at home or allow him to choose his activities.

However, without any prompting, David would spend all the days of his holidays sat in the living room on one of the many sensory cushions, playing continuously with his iPad.

If we thought this made him happy then that’s what we would do.

But I think we have come to realize that this isn’t his preferred way to spend all the days of his holidays – it’s just how he copes without the routine and interaction of school.

Now we have plans for half-terms.  They don’t have to be full-on all the time, although sometimes they are.

Mostly they just need to have some activities out of the house.

We go for walks with the dogs most days but will include days out to amusement parks, visitor attractions and even going out to lunch. Many of the things other families may do.

Generally, these involve more planning.

We have to consider carefully what travel arrangements and environments will be safe for David and we have to make sure we can take lunch with us as there is every possibility he won’t eat whatever is available there.

But we manage… mostly.

I think what we’ve learned over the years of breaks from school, is that having a routine for David doesn’t necessarily mean doing exactly the same things every day.

But it does mean having some consistency in when activities happen (eg breakfast, going out, dinner, bedtime) and having activities to do.

It’s been a hard lesson learned.

Some weeks off would end in meltdowns when we thought nothing stressful had happened because we had stayed at home….

Of course, it was doing nothing at all and staying home that caused the meltdowns.

We’ve figured out some things but still find new challenges on our days out or times away, but I’m glad we’re managing to enjoy them as a family.


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