Summer Meltdown Mania

I love summer. Warm weather, swimming, lots of time outside soaking in the Vitamin D; It just all seems to put me in the best mood. But summer means no school schedules. For most kids this is a big plus, but for kids on the spectrum that thrive on routine, summer can hit some hard spots. The summer after Damion started school was one of the hardest we’ve had. It felt like an unending time full of meltdowns. It took us some time to adjust, but over time we’ve worked through it. Here are some tips and tricks that I use with my autistic son to maximize our summer fun while minimizing any meltdowns due to schedule changes.


  1. Get into your own summer routine

Obviously one of the easier ways to combat meltdowns for a kid that prefers to be on a schedule is to put them on a schedule. Now our summer schedule may not be quite as involved as a school schedule, but for the most part, it gets the job done. As a forewarning this may mean that he starts to make up his own routine a bit as well. An example is we would visit my grandmother once a week, and the first time we went to see her we stopped for ice cream after. You better believe that every subsequent time we went he would ask to get ice cream. But I was ok with his pushed routine too.

  1. Plan to leave the house a little bit each day

I’m not going to say it is not exhausting to feel like you have to leave for a little every day. For some reason, full days at home seem to set the mood for bad behaviors. At least that is how it is at our house anyway. What can I say? My boy loves to be on the go. It doesn’t have to be far. Our closest local park or a quick trip to see grandma and grandpa work just fine for us.

  1. Use the fun stuff as a reward

Always a good habit to still be working on goals. Whether it is life skills or keeping pace with things they learned in school, every little bit helps. We would generally save our “out of the house” activity as a reward for doing a little bit of writing work, followed by an at home kind of feeding therapy for lunch. He learned quickly that once he completed his work, and ate his “big boy bites” at lunch, we would be off to do something fun. We are fortune to have parents with a pool nearby so that is our go to most days.

  1. One day at a time

I am pretty careful on the schedule I present to Damion. I cannot control the weather or if something comes up last minute, so giving him a run down for the week is not always the best option as he holds me to what I say. I have found it is best to give him verbal rundown of the days events when he wakes up in the morning. For kids that do better with visual help a picture schedule every morning may be a good idea too. Going one day at a time won’t fix all things unexpected, but it should help minimize them. Also, by giving the schedule daily, we can always make small adjustments so our weeks are not identical and we can try a few new things as well.

  1. Enjoy your time

I know it is not easy. Keeping the schedule going, still working hard on those goals. Motherhood is a lot of work. Motherhood to a special needs child is an extra lot of work. But summer is a time for fun. Even though Damion thrives on his school schedule, he is gone for such a large chunk of the day during school and I really miss him. Summer is when I get to enjoy the time with my kids, even if some days I just want to pull my hair out by the end of the day! But hey, that is basically what motherhood is anyway right?


Obviously, my advice fits with my current situation of being a stay-at-home mom. For those Mommas that work, these might be some tips or tricks you could suggest to your daycare or a babysitter if they are struggling through summer schedule changes as well. Obviously, no day is perfect, so when those meltdowns do come think of the silver lining and try to use it as a time to work or test new calm down strategies. Most kids love summer break and with a few minor tweaks to add in some structure, summer break can be a great time for kids on the spectrum too. Utilize the tips above and hopefully you can enjoy summer as much as we do