The pools are open, the sun is shining and it’s time to get outside in the community! While some caregivers may be excited about this opportunity, others may be nervous about how their child with autism may interact in a community setting, especially with Covid-19 providing less social opportunities in the past. Here are several ways to practice community skills in the summer time that will help a child with Autism interact in a social based setting:
- Use interests to gain community skills: What interests does your child have? Using interests even if they are different from other children to motivate a community activity. For instance if your child loves water, swimming lessons and interactions with a lifeguard could help your child learn water safety. If your child loves light up toys, a trip to the fire station to meet firefighters and see the lights on the vehicles may be exciting and engaging for them and create a social opportunity with a community helper.
- Call or research community plans in your area: Once you know your child’s interests, call or research what is available throughout the summer for free. Typically there are events happening each week. A great place to start is the local library for free social events.
- Prime ahead of time: Always provide insight to your child ahead of time so that they know what is going to happen at the event, how many people may be there, etc. A social story or pictures of where it will take place can be helpful.
- Bring reinforcement: Bring along your child’s favorite items so that they can have something to motivate them during a new activity. Also bring any sensory items they may need such as noise canceling headphones.
Community outings can be overwhelming and stressful, but planning ahead can make them successful and help a person with Autism achieve skills in the area of engaging with their community. This is a lifelong skill that will benefit them.