The Joys Of Summer For Kids With Special Needs (And Their Parents)
The scent of summer is in the air, and both my kids are getting end-of-school-year giddy. In some ways, the season is much like any other part of the year for my son. Max is in school year round, so he’ll be in class in July and August. The speech and occupational therapists will still come to hour home. Yet in other ways, summer is a break for him as it is for any kid: He’ll go on vacation. He’ll be at camp for a week. He’ll enjoy fun time outside. He will consume his body weight in ice-cream, and then some.
Summer is a break for me, too. Winter may be long gone but I continue to appreciate the fact that my kids can just dash outside, no bundling up necessary. Max needs extra help getting his arms into jackets, and pulling on mittens or gloves take some doing since his fingers aren’t that flexible because of the cerebral palsy. Not having to handle that is a relief. So is the new world of activities Mother Nature opens up to us: Our entire family got a bad case of cabin fever during those long, cold months, but figuring out ways to draw Max away from watching TV and YouTube videos and engage him proved challenging at times.
Summer is also good for Max’s CP. Between the walking, biking, pool time and backyard playing, his muscles are moving a lot more than at other times of year. They tend to tighten up when it’s cold, making his arms and legs stiffer and harder to move. Between the extra exercise and warmer weather, though, his body is more relaxed.
The weekend road trips are a pleasure for us all. Last July, we did a farm stay in Pennsylvania Dutch Country (Farm Stay U.S. has listings). Sometimes, the getaways are spontaneous. Seeing different places expands both my kids’ perspectives, yet it’s especially important for Max. “Expose him to as many new experiences as possible,” the pediatric neurologist told us when he was a baby, to help his brain thrive.
My workload is the same year round: I have kids to nurture, a house to take care of, a job to do to support my family, insurance company staffers to pester about paying therapist bills for Max, gray roots to cover up. But in the summer, my spirits soar. The weight of responsibilities that rests on my head and heart lightens. I wake up in the mornings, that beautiful airy light streaming through our bedroom window, and the world seems filled with possibilities.
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