Creating Memories

This is the time of year when my phone rings frequently from parents (Moms mostly) looking for summer camps and other activities suitable for their child on the spectrum. It sort of sneaks up on you…summer, that is. One minute you’re cruising along in your usual school routine, and then all at once everything stops, and you’re looking at a gaping hole of inactivity for 2 ½ months. It can be overwhelming unless you do a little pre-planning, and I think I can help you there 🙂

Every February Autism Tennessee sponsors a Summer Opportunities Fair with many exhibitors showcasing summer camps, sports, and other recreational and educational opportunities. From that Fair we generate a handout, which is available now. In addition, this year I also made up a separate camp list for those providers that did not take part in the February event. We also have a lot of other options available through our resource database, so I’m pretty sure we can find something that will work to fill some of those summer hours.

Today, however, I’d like to discuss some unstructured activities that can often create some of the best summer memories for both you and your child. This past Sunday (May 1st) I posted a list created by one of the moms in a Facebook group I’m on with all kinds of wonderful ideas for summer fun, from places to go, to volunteer opportunities, to things to do at home. If you missed the post, just let me know, and I’ll be happy to send you a copy of that as well.

It got me thinking about the lists I used to make when my son was little and some of the things that he really enjoyed. He loved water, so anything to do with that was a winner, whether it was swimming at the Y, filling up the kiddie pool and splashing with the dogs or, even washing the car. One day while I was inside working Josh decided he would help me out by washing my car. I could hear him merrily hosing it down right outside the office door and, after a bit, I went outside to check on him. To my dismay, I discovered that washing the car to him meant both the outside AND the inside! It took a long time for that musty smell to dissipate, but I sure had the cleanest floor mats you’ve ever seen! From then on, I also tried to remember to lock the car doors.

Another of our summer adventures involved gardening. What kid doesn’t like getting dirty? Mine sure did; the dirtier, the better! I decided to put that affinity for the soil to good use and started a vegetable garden in the back yard. We broke up clods of dirt, made our little furrows and put the seeds in, and covered and watered them with care. Once the little plants started peeking out, we pulled out all the stray weeds. It was a real Mom and Son project, and I was so excited that we would soon have fresh vegetables to eat. I even put a little fence all around the plot to keep out the little critters who might eat the young plants. Unfortunately, I forgot about the big critters. One day while he was outside playing with the dogs, Josh decided he would dismantle the fence so they would have more room to run and, you guessed it, they trampled the entire garden. So much for those fresh veggies!

I don’t want to cast a pall on these events because they were super successful in their own way. The outcome maybe wasn’t what I’d expected, but the memories they have created…priceless!

Even though I never completely got through all my summer “to do” lists, we made tons of memories doing fun things at home. Finger painting in the back yard was really fun, having an indoor scavenger hunt on a rainy day or an outdoor treasure hunt in the sandbox when it was sunny were big hits, and who can forget catching lightning bugs and frogs on a warm summer’s night. You don’t have to have a lot of money or resources to make lasting memories. It only takes a little bit of imagination. Have fun this summer, and build some memories of your own!




    Karen Racki | May 25, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Hi I’m looking for summer camp programs for my almost 10 yr old son Aaron who has autism. I work full time and hate keeping him in a daycare that isn’t stimulating his growth. Please help! Thank you. I live in Nashville, TN.

    Carolyn Shindler | May 23, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Alicia, I just emailed you several summer camp and recreational lists, so check your inbox.

    Alicia Babyok | May 23, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Carolyn, I’m in search for a summer day camp for my 10 year old son Josiah who has autism. Any help you could provide would be appreciated.

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