8 Reasons Summer Rocks (And Doesn’t Rock) For Special Needs Families

No matter how old I get, or how many years I’ve had a job, part of me keeps expecting a two-month-long vacation come summer. That eternal hope powers me through July and August, along with iced coffee and weekends in the pool with the kids.

Summer’s a treat, in many ways, especially when you parent a kid with special needs. And in some ways, it’s not really. Here’s why.

5 Reasons Summer Rocks For Special Needs Families

1. Lots and lots of thera-play. The best occupational and physical therapy is the kind you can naturally work into everyday routines, and summer gives you a whole lot of opps for that. Helping your kid swim in the pool or dig sand at the beach, setting up an obstacle course in the backyard or, heck, even drawing with paint ice-cubes (mix watercolor paint with water, freeze in ice-cube trays) are all Good Things for them. Meanwhile, kids have no clue they’re doing therapy because they are having so much fun.

2. More chill time with the kids. Getting home from work while there’s still a couple of hours of light left in the day and I can play outside with the kids or run through the sprinklers is a treat.

3. Easier outings. Yes, when you leave the house you still have to pack up the EpiPen/Diastat/[insert medicine here] and remember your go bag, but at least you are not having to zip your child up into a million layers, shove boots onto unwilling feet and mittens onto unwilling hands, and coax/beg them to wear a hat.

4. Road trips. Back when Max was a baby, our neurologist told us that one of the best things we could do to help nourish his brain (Max had a stroke at birth) was to expose him to as many new experiences as possible. This has become easier over the years as Max has matured—and since we’ve discovered noise-blocking headphones. This summer, we’re doing a farm stay in Pennsylvania, and a first-time trip to Cape Cod.

5. Less scheduling. For me, one of the hardest adjustments to parenting has been living by schedules. It was most extreme when my kids were very young, but I’ve still kept it up because Max functions best with schedules. I still miss spontaneity, and all the thrills, pleasures and sense of freedom it brings. Summertime lends itself to spontaneity, whether it’s a post-dinner “Hey! Let’s go out for ice-cream” moment or deciding to hit a water park.

And 3 Reasons Summer Doesn’t Rock For Special Needs Families 

1. Less scheduling! Although my son attends school year-round, he has two two-week breaks every summer. As a working mom, this means scheduling (and paying for) additional caregiving.

2. Fireworks. I’m not just talking about the 4th of July. For weeks afterward, kids in our neighborhood set them off in the evening, totally freaking Max out.

3. End-of-summer insanity. As much as I enjoy summer, come mid-August (my kids go back to school early September) I am juggling a bazillion forms, early requests for school supplies and getting fall clothes for the kids because nothing from last year fits. For now, I’ll just go have another iced-coffee and not think about it.

From my other blog:

18 things special needs moms shouldn’t feel guilty about

Max goes to a movie theater for the first time. Shriek!

When your kid won’t stop repeating something


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