Summer is right around the corner! Are you ready?

Without the routine of school, some children struggle with knowing what is happening each day, and can feel like they have little control over their daily activities. In turn, anxiety levels can rise, and behaviors may increase. Sound familiar?

At our house, we make sure to stick to a schedule as much as possible, even though it’s not my favorite. It helps our daughter, 11-year-old Ramona, to know “what’s next” and have a plan.

Ramona and her brother Ezra enjoying playtime!

I make sure there is plenty of time to just play so that I can keep up with my home and work chores, and because I don’t want the day jam-packed with adult-led activities. We have a book of ideas for Ramona when she’s bored, anxious, or just not sure what to do. She is able to flip through the pages of things she can do independently, like turn on some music, play with Legos, color, work on a puzzle, or clean her room (just kidding, she never chooses that last one). You can make your own idea book for your child by drawing or printing pictures of favorite items, toys, or activities. It could become a booklet, a list, a poster, or whatever makes sense for your child. I’m sure there’s a cool way to make it high-tech, too, if that’s your style.

Ezra enjoying quiet time on the swing!

We live in a small town but our local library has activities 6 days a week all summer long. At least 2 days a week, Ramona visits the library to play, check out new books, and meet other kids. It’s FREE, of course, and a great way to pass the time! Ramona is not yet an independent reader, but loves picking out new stories to hear and playing with the library’s Legos (toys are cooler when they’re not yours!). We hope to turn her regular visits to the library into a volunteer opportunity when she gets a little older. Near the library is a park, which she also visits multiple times a week all summer. The park is the site for our school district’s summer lunch program, which is yet another activity to add to the day’s schedule and make some friends in the meantime! Check out your local library and your school district’s calendar to find similar activities in your area-free, easy, inclusive!

When Ramona’s little brother was younger and I was a stay-at-home mom, I did some childcare swapping with friends. It was a great way to give myself a break, and a great way for kids to really get to know each other. If you have time on the weekend, after work, or if you stay home, childcare swapping is definitely worth thinking about and building into that ever-important schedule. I hope to fill up a few Saturdays that way this summer!

Projects with Dad!

We tried swimming lessons last year and we’re planning to do them again. Simply letting her instructor know that she would need a life jacket to participate with kids her age did the trick! Ramona was in a beginner’s course, with her peers, and a life jacket meant she could hang out in deeper water (she could still touch) without stress, panic, or needing 1:1 support in learning how to blow bubbles or float on her back. She will still need that support this summer…and that’s OK! She loves playing in the water and doing all the things other kids do, but needs that small accommodation to make it work. Because it was so easy and successful, now asking “what would it take?” is our new mantra! We know that when it comes to trying things…Ramona can do anything with the right support in place! This shift in thinking as a family has transformed what kinds of activities, trips, and possibilities we know are available to Ramona.

It’s not always Mom and Dad taking Ramona out in the community. Because of her disability, she relies on a Personal Support Worker for some things. PSW’s are another great resource for making sure your kids’ summers are full and inclusive. Read this blog for more insights on building a summer schedule for your PSW that meets your child’s needs and includes time out and about in community!

Does your child love being out in nature? A recent FACT Oregon Blog is about 6-year-old Sam’s love of the great outdoors. It will get you inspired to explore our beautiful corner of the world! Oregon is full of campgrounds, hiking trails and diverse landscapes. Many trails and camps are wheelchair accessible-do a little research to find out what might work for your family! Ramona loves getting outdoors, but with her medical needs we aren’t quite as adventurous as Sam’s family. Instead, we opt for electricity and real toilets and take day trips with preferred foods and familiar toys in tow! It’s just what it takes for our outdoor experience to be fun and successful, and that’s OK.

No matter where you live in Oregon, there is so much to do this summer! Make sure to check out these ideas:

  • Your local family network (FACT and around the state!)
  • City or county’s parks and recreation district website and publications
  • Local library, community center, and
  • State parks near you
  • Whatever you do this summer, and wherever you’re located, mark your calendar for August 12: FACT Oregon’s first-ever All Ability Tri 4 Youth!!!
  • If you need help communicating support needs to folks like instructors, camp counselors, and coaches, please visit our person-centered planning sectionand view our sample person-centered plans. We encourage you to create one for your child! It can be given to anyone involved with your child and customized for each setting or activity

Please know that we are happy to help you with person centered planning! If you’re not sure if or how your child could truly access camps, sports or activities, we’d love to brainstorm with you. Just give us a call on our support line 503-786-6082 or send an email to support@factoregon.org.

If discrimination is a concern, or you’re curious about your child’s rights to access summer programming, be sure to check out the extensive resources offered by Disability Rights Oregon.

If you have more ideas to add to this page, let us know! Have fun this summer, and enjoy a break from the stress of IEP meetings and snafus at school!

Have a good summer – see you on the swings! Love, Caitlin and Ramona

Here’s to a great summer at my house and yours!!

Caitlin Shockley
Education and Community Director, FACT Oregon
caitlin@factoregon.org
www.factoregon.org