Welcome to CHART! Our purpose at CHART is to connect families with the people, tools, and services that will help them to support their loved one with autism or a sensory processing disorder. We share local resources and events taking place in Chapel Hill, NC and around the Triangle. We also address national news about autism and share our personal experiences and tips. Please join us on Facebook and Twitter for the most up-to-the-minute news.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Countdown to Summer!

With only one week left in school here in Chapel Hill, summer break is right around the corner. For kids on the spectrum, those lazy, unstructured summer days of our youth are rarely a good option. The key to a great summer for everyone in the family is maintaining consistency, structure, and continuing with the things that work well for your child during the school year. Bonus: keeping your child used to a consistent schedule and clear expectations will also help ease the transition back to school in the fall. Here are some ideas for making summer 2015 a great one:

Enroll in a summer camp. There are many excellent camp options around the Triangle, ranging from full inclusion to specialty programs designed just for children and teens with autism. In our experience, it is essential to keep our son engaged in group activities with other kids over the long break from school.

There is also a new session starting up of the Social Smarts Summer Camp at CIDD in July. Note that this group for kids is an extension of the parent education sessions based on Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking curriculum. Please download the fliers below for program and registration details.

Learn about the 5 "S"s that will make your summer great, including Sensory, Schedule, and Social Stories.

Check out Durham County Library's Sensory Storytime for Children with Special Needs on Tuesday afternoons.

Add structure to play time. When our kids are home with nothing specific to do during long summer days, it can be very hard for them to know how to occupy themselves. It goes far beyond the typical "Mom, I'm boooooooored!" cries of all kids - for many children with autism, the concept of "play" is simply too open-ended. Discover how to use visuals to structure play time to make it fun.

Prepare for back-to-school time. I know, I know, many of us haven't even quite finished this school year - but that's why it is the perfect time to make preliminary plans for next year. While teachers and staff are still in the building, discuss any necessary transition plans, ask them for suggestions for things to work with on your child over the summer break (life skills, books to read, whatever they need to make the step to the next grade, etc.).

Behold the ultimate IEP sandwich!

For us, that looks like a brief transition meeting with our IEP team. It's not a time to re-write goals or make any big changes, but rather an opportunity to document which accommodations and strategies were successful this year so next year's teacher will know about them from Day 1. It is also the perfect time to thank your IEP team for their ongoing support (hopefully!), show appreciation for our hard-working teachers, and if your meeting happens to be at lunchtime, share a tasty sandwich (because food is always welcome at IEP meetings!).

What are your family's favorite summer traditions? Please share in the comments!

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