Autism-Friendly Ideas for a Fun and Engaging Summer

Young boy in summer

As a leading ABA therapy company dedicated to serving children on the autism spectrum, we understand the unique challenges and joys that come with parenting a child with autism. With summer just around the corner, we believe it’s crucial to equip parents with autism-friendly ideas to ensure a memorable and inclusive summer experience for their children.

Summer brings with it a break from routine, warmer weather, and an opportunity for children to explore new activities. However, for children with autism, a sudden change in routine and sensory overload can present challenges. That’s why we’re here to offer practical tips and suggestions for creating an autism-friendly summer that promotes engagement, sensory regulation, and socialization.

Creating a Summer Schedule

One of the most impactful ways to support your child with autism this summer is by creating a structured and predictable schedule. This can help ease anxiety by providing a sense of routine and consistency. Visual schedules can be especially helpful as they offer a clear and individualized plan for each day.

Start by making a list of activities and events that you know your child enjoys. This could include things like going to the park, swimming, playing board games, or visiting a local museum. Use this list to create a daily or weekly schedule that incorporates these activities. Alongside a structured activity list, make sure to add in periods of free time for your child, this can help balance routine and flexibility.

family having a summer picnic

Plan Sensory-Friendly Outings

When planning summer outings for your child with autism, it’s essential to consider their sensory sensitivities. Crowded and noisy places can be overwhelming, leading to anxiety or meltdowns. Consider choosing sensory-friendly venues with reduced crowds and noise levels, such as

  • Early morning visits to the zoo.
  • Quiet, private beaches or lakes.
  • Nature reserves.
  • Sensory-friendly museums.
  • Petting zoos.
  • Planetariums/observatory centers.
  • Botanical gardens.
  • Picnic in the park.
  • Visit the library.
  • Look for sensory-friendly days at local places near you!

*Tip- Simply type “autism-friendly activities near me” into Google to find tons of local events and activities for your family!*

Before embarking on an outing, prepare your child by using visual supports like social stories or visual schedules to help them understand what to expect. Consider bringing headphones or other sensory tools that can help regulate their sensory input.

Engage in Therapeutic Activities at Home

Summer provides an excellent opportunity for parents to engage in activities with their child that promote learning and development while having fun at the same time. Consider trying some of these sensory and therapeutic activities at home.

Water Play: Fill up a container with water, add some toys, and let your child’s imagination run wild! Water play is a great sensory activity that can help with relaxation, coordination, and sensory regulation.

Arts & Crafts: Encourage creativity and fine motor skills by engaging in an art or crafts project. Painting, coloring, and crafting with materials like play dough or clay can be both therapeutic and fun.

Cooking and Baking: Involve your child in age-appropriate cooking or baking activities. Measure ingredients, stir, and engage in sensory-rich experiences like smelling herbs or feeling different textures while mixing. It can also provide an opportunity to work on following instructions and sequencing.

Gardening: Start a small garden or involve your child in caring for plants or herbs. Digging, planting, watering, and observing the growth process provide sensory input and teach responsibility and patience.

Swimming and Water Sports: Swimming is an excellent activity for children with autism as it provides sensory input, promotes coordination, and helps with relaxation.

Music and Movement: Music and movement can also be excellent therapeutic activities for children with autism. Singing songs, dancing, or making music together can help with communication, coordination, and socialization.

Daily Living Skills Practice: Use the summer break to work on essential daily living skills like dressing independently, brushing teeth, or organizing belongings. Breaking these tasks into smaller steps and providing visual prompts can support skill acquisition.

Find Social-Focused Activities

In addition to structured schedules and sensory-friendly outings, social-focused activities can also be a great way to promote socialization and engagement for children with autism during the summer. Look for inclusive summer programs and camps that are designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum. These programs offer a safe and supportive environment where children can play, learn, and interact with others who share similar experiences.

3 kids playing at summer camp

Additionally, consider setting up play dates with other families who have children with autism or reaching out to local support groups for ideas and connection opportunities. Socializing with peers can help improve social skills, build friendships, and reduce isolation.

As the summer season approaches, it’s crucial for parents of children with autism to plan and create an autism-friendly summer experience. By incorporating structured schedules, sensory-friendly outings, therapeutic activities at home, and more, parents can ensure their child has a fun and engaging summer while also supporting their unique needs.

Learn More About The Autism Therapy Group

The Autism Therapy Group is here to provide guidance and support, and we encourage parents to implement the suggested ideas while considering their child’s individual preferences and abilities. Let’s make this summer a time of growth, enjoyment, and cherished memories for children with autism and their families.

Learn more about The Autism Therapy Group and our ABA therapy services for children with autism by contacting us today!


Check out some other sites for more summer ideas!

Easterseals Summer Activities

Verywell Health: Summer Camps for Children with ASD

Autism Society: resources for the beginning of summer

Check out our “Autism-Friendly Ideas for a Fun and Engaging Summer” Blog Post

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