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self-help skills Summer is right around the corner! Kids will be home from school, sleeping in late, and procrastinating on any assigned summer reading.  When I was in middle school, summer had to be “productive”.  For families who have children with various isms, a “productive” summer means a lot more than squeezing in a few more extracurricular activities – it was an opportunity to enhance social skills and build upon existing self-help skills.

In my family, “productive” meant learning a new skill that would be used in the real world. In my early years, it might have meant trying a new food.  As I got older and in high school, it meant learning how to apply make up.  Whatever the focus was for that summer, the ultimate goal was to prepare for whatever social life would bring.

Summer is a great time for teaching social and self-help skills.  Kids may not see their peers everyday during the summer so it allows time to practice a variety of social skills before they see them again in August or September when school starts back up.  Let me share as few ideas of things you can teach this summer….

Teach Social Skills

Are there things that other kids say that your kid doesn’t say?  If your child has friends that are typical, watch how they socialize.  Let them be your child’s guide.

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When I was young, my mom used to teach me social skills using special board games.  Some games taught skills such as how to properly answer the phone if the call was for someone else in the house.  Another game taught idioms.  Idioms are expression like “time flies when you’re have fun” or “it’s raining cats and dogs”.  Idioms are phrases that I kids with autism or other isms may take literally.

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Discover 10 Board Games to Facilitate Social Learning

Stock up on a few of these games this summer and have family fun playing board games that will teach your child everything from idioms to manners to social skills exploration.

Befudiom Board Game

Sneaky Conversations

Proverbial Wisdom Jr.

Social Skills Board Games

The Art of Children’s Conversation

Q’s Race to the Top Educational Board Game with Book: social skills, manners, and better behavior!

Snoots Toots: A Kid’s Game of Empathy and Manners

Successful Kids Patch Products Blunders Board Game

You & Me: A Game That Teaches Social Skills and Social Awareness

What Do You Say… What Do You Do… At School? Social Skills Board Game

Summer is a perfect time to practice situations that may come up in the future – the goal is preparation.  For additional ideas on teaching social skills, visit Special-Ism’s Social Skill Solution Center for close to 120 resources for social skills.

Teach Self-Help Skills

Summer is also the perfect time to teach various self-help skills.  Establish a schedule each day throughout the summer.  Foster increased independence with these simple steps.

Establish a Morning Routine

Ensure your child wakes at an established time each day using an alarm clock.

Encourage your child to independently prepare a simple breakfast.

Add a.m. care to the routine that includes teeth brushing and showering.

Create a visual schedule if need be to encourage kids to transition from one activity to the next.

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Let’s Get Clean Routine

Teach Basic Life Skills

Learn to Apply Make-Up

When I was in middle school, I wanted to start wearing make up like my peers.  If you have a daughter in this age bracket, summer may be a good time to discuss the purpose of make up and to teach how to apply make up in a tasteful way.

The Art of Make Up for Young Ladies

Manage Body Odor

As I got older, I noticed that my peers would talk badly about other kids who had bad self-help skills.  Body odor was the #1 complaint.  Introduce your kids to deodorant this summer.  Try different brands until you find one that your child likes.

Sometimes, refusing deodorant is a sensory ism.  Gwen Wild, OTR/L of Sensational Brain suggests the following:

Deep Pressure

Provide whole body deep pressure activity prior to application of deodorant.

Roll over him with a therapy ball.

Have him do a mini-obstacle course in the living room.

Keep it Short

Apply one swipe of deodorant.

Dry the Pits

Encourage the child to keep arms up while it dries – this speeds up the drying process so the sticky feeling will go away. Alternatively, use a blow dryer to dry the pits – this will also serve as a diversion tactic while he/she gets used to the feel.

Preferred Activity

Immediately involve the child in a preferred activity – like breakfast.

Seek an Alternative

When all else fails, consider trying an alternative.  Wild suggests De Odor Works – Natural Deodorant Alternative.  De Odor works uses stainless steel with running water.  It is a recognized method of eliminating the volatile sulfur compounds (VSC’s) that cause odor.

In the summer months, there usually isn’t a lot of structure.  Kids with various isms tend to thrive with more structure.  Use the summer to carve out a bit of structure by teaching self-help and social skills.  You just might discover that your child will be much more independent when the back to school bell rings.