Special Needs Parenting: Summer is Overrated
This is the time of year that I once lived for.
Being outside for hours, impromptu drives to the beach, trips to the park and leisurely picnics were once all integral parts of this carefree period.
Now, as I experience the summer months as a parent of children with special needs, I am seriously wishing for AUTUMN!
While I am loving the time at home with my children, without any school related responsibilities, I see the need for routine in our lives.
We thrive when there is some sort of schedule in place.
Medications are still due at certain times; being on summer vacation doesn’t change that.
The alarm is always set for 5:00 am, so there is no sleeping in.
In addition to strict medication schedules, feeding and sleeping routines need to remain somewhat consistent.
When Autism and Epilepsy are a part of daily life, consistency is a MUST!
This, among other things, can make summer outings a challenge.
If we visit a waterpark or pool, where will we privately change our daughter’s diaper?
In the hot car?
Definitely not on a baby changing station – at six years old, she is way too big for those.
Certainly not on a wet, disgusting floor.
Will there be food that she can eat?
While she is learning to chew, textures are still an obstacle.
Can we find something suitable for her, or do we pack pudding, applesauce and yogurt just in case?
Another concern we must take into consideration is the temperature.
Living in the hot and humid southern part of the U.S., summer temperatures can be stifling.
For a little one that has trouble regulating her body temperature, this can not only be uncomfortable, but also dangerous.
Seizures can sneak up out of the blue with extreme body temperature changes.
Did we remember to pack the rescue meds?
Should we have brought along her oxygen tank, just in case?
Instead of floating down a lazy river at ease or splashing in the pool without a care in the world, my mind remains filled with these worries.
If we are out for an extended time and need to go out to a restaurant, is it going to be overly noisy?
Will our daughter become overstimulated and not be able to tolerate the crowd?
Which one of us will stroll her around outside if she becomes miserable from the noise – and will there be a cool, shady place to get her to calm down?
We are not a family that is opposed to having fun, despite our extra worries and concerns of summer.
We are just the opposite – we make our own fun wherever we are.
We have had many adventures; we just have to be conscious of our children’s needs and accommodate accordingly.
Evening trips out for ice cream and enjoying water activities early in the morning are examples of how we manage that.
We may not be able to impulsively pick up and go, but with careful planning, we make fun happen.
Mornings on the sofa cuddling with my daughter and late nights watching old movies with my son are definitely the highlights of our summer break.
We take advantage of things we don’t get to do so much, during the school year.
We’re grateful for air conditioning and extra time spent just being together.
To me, summer is a bit overrated.
Bring on the pumpkins, the cool air and brisk walks at the park in Autumn.