6 Ways to Help Your Child with Autism Relax Over Labor Day Weekend

Your child has just started school and is still adjusting to a more structured routine. They may be doing great or not so great, and then the Labor Day weekend comes. For some parents, it is a blessing, a small break for the whole family before the full routine is back. For other parents, it is even more stressful, as they have to explain that there is a long weekend to go before a more predictable routine is in place.

How can you as parents handle both scenarios? And what activities can you do as a family to help your child with autism relax over the long weekend? Here are some things our family has tried, and what has worked for friends. As always, remember that you know your child best and know what they need more of:

1)    Family picnic in the park: This is pretty straightforward and depends on the nice weather. What many children on the spectrum gravitate to is the simplicity of being outside, playing on slides and swings (great for tension release and meeting sensory needs), and being with those familiar to them, family and close friends. Pick a park close to home so if it’s too much you can head home without too much of a long commute for all.

2)    BBQ in backyard with friends: This is good if you want to stay close to home as well. Have them help you choose the menu, use paper plates, and make it like a fun farewell to summer treat.

3)    Camping either in your backyard or elsewhere: We have yet to try this, but camping has the added adventure of being outdoors, listening to nature in all her beauty and peace, and simplifying things in general. Families can talk, roast marshmallows, sing songs and really bond. Again, a great way to end the summer season and friends who have done it are singing its praises for their special children.

4)    Beach or pool: Most are still open, and again, it’s simple, cost effective, and gives the child a balance of being outdoors, with people, and being active.

5)    Movie, or family board game at home: If the weather is rainy or cold, great indoor activities would be a family movie day at home or theater (depending on your child’s comfort level), or playing a board game with Mom and Dad. Card games are good too for older children.

6)    Arts and craft activities alone and with parents: This is great, as doing arts and crafts meets sensory needs as well as keeps little hands and minds busy. Set up a painting corner, a shaving cream and or foam etc. section (with mats or a cloth on floor) and or sensory bin filled with beans, pasta, etc. which they could use in a craft project. If your child likes building, there are tons of activity books that help children learn to construct figurines, castles etc. available at most Dollarama stores and other toy or bookstores.

As long as you are following your child’s cues, they will most likely do fine over the long weekend. Other tips to remember: write down or have them write or draw the plans for the long weekend in advance. This will cut down on a lot of anxiety and stress for the whole family. Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Joanne Giacomini is a writer, speaker and parent coach, at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance,” www.exceptionalparenting.net.  She also blogs about how her son with autism is raising her at “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child,” www.exceptionalmomchild. com.   She writes regularly about parenting and autism at “Huff Post Parents Canada”, “M List by the Suburban,” and “Parenting 101” by the Suburban. She has also been featured on “BlogHer Family-Special Needs,” “Yummy Mummy Club Canada,” “Scary Mommy”, “Her View From Home”, “Romper”, “KidsOutAndAbout,” and many other publications. She writes about parenting and lifestyle issues at “The Things” and “Baby Gaga.”


Joanne Giacomini September 02, 2016 4:42 pm

Hi Kathy, I'm so glad you found the suggestions helpful. It is also great that you both can have time to do different things with your sons as often children with and without ASD will have different interests. Thanks for sharing! Have a great long weekend!

Kathy at kissing the frog September 02, 2016 12:12 pm

These are great ideas. And at least Labor Day weekend is long enough so that, in my house, we can spend time with each of our sons doing the things they like. Our ASD son often doesn't want to do what his brothers are doing.