Things have been great but uber busy with track, soccer and scouts rocking most of our week and countless other weekly activities taking the rest of our time. I made a couple hours last week to prep our summer plans as summer is when I get the most time to teach all 3 of my kids.
We have an incentive plan set up so that for each A your weekly housework time goes down by 5 minute and you have no academics to complete over the summer in a subject you get a forth quarter A in. B’s mean 15 minutes twice a week and C’s mean 45 minutes twice a week (no kid has ever gotten a D in this house or it would be 45 minutes a day!). The idea is that if you work hard in school you 1) will hopefully being doing less of your own housework 2) be able to fully enjoy time off. Workbooks have already been bought and pages earmarked in the subjects I am sure will not get an A for all 3 kids but for Bird continuing to work on academics is critical as he loses so much over a week break I can’t imagine a summer he does not work on skills it took so long to build.
The kids have gone through a website with recipes to pick 2 each to start then print them and make changes which have to be approved by me like no red meat and must have a vegetable not just starches. Once a week each of the kids will make dinner for the family and are aloud to only request assistance twice during the prep and once during cooking as they are 10 and 11 now and have been cooking a lot on and off this should not be a big deal. We will work on the shopping and money aspect towards the end of summer as right now I just want them to enjoy the shear joy of picking what they want to eat!
The extra work we are doing this year is on music. Bird has still got some gaps in language and I have found the best way to really find things he A) does not already understand or use or B) things he uses incorrectly is by taking on a major topic like last year when we worked on community and citizenship and gained so much! Each of the kids will be pick a genre of music here is what they can pick from: Classical, Reggae and Hip Hop, The Biggies (Elvis, Beatles, Stones, James Brown, etc), Punk and Metal, 1920’s Jazz, 1960 and Folk, Mom’s Favorites, Country and Bluegrass last but never least Soul and R&B. They will study and write a poster 1 week before the assignment is due to present to our family about their genre. We will listen to music they choose and I choose for that week and talk about everything from how it makes us feel to how it might make others feel with the attempt to understand why it rose, stayed or fell from popular culture. I picked the 1920’s as it is one of my favorite periods of music and have already made my poster to show them as a template. Music is a huge influence on kids today and always and Bird and his siblings understanding more about the roots of music can only better their understanding of people. I have hopes we will go to a lot of free concerts this summer as well.
In the sports arena the twins are starting swim team today and my oldest will be joining the dive team. This 6 day a week sport is great for a lot of reasons not just the really great shoulders and cardio which are obvious draws. For kids with autism learning how to be a part of a team and follow group instructions, learning to win with grace and lose with dignity. learning that waiting can be fun if you bring a game to share or chat with others is a real skill. We also plan to focus on basketball as a good friend Fabian has offered to work with Bird on this and tennis as the whole family really loves to play.
All 3 kids are going to sleep away scout camps this year which is great. It is a totally worthwhile experience for any child with autism provided they do not have the following behaviors: escape, aggressive, self-injurious, lots of stimm and that they are super high functioning (loads of spontaneous appropriate language and great in large group settings). You need to be sure the camp is appropriate and they are safe and that you go with them the first couple years to work on transitions, new foods and sleeping in a novel environment. They love camp and get a lot of life experience and peer development out of going plus a sense that they are trusted and competent without mom and dad. Okay, last year when Bird went to camp another boy (but a typical kids) also in 4th grade spent every night crying about wanting to go home so clearly camp is not a good fit for everyone it was strange too because this kid would never have been the one I would have thought would not have just went with the flow…live and learn.
My oldest son has a video game perseverance so he is getting a little behavioral intervention that I created by way of giving him a solid 7.5 hours once a week (mon-fri) to game in his pj’s without distraction and NO video games the other 4 days a week with 2-3 hours on Sat and Sunday. This I hope will curb his intense desire to be home in front of some form of electronics.
All 3 kids will work in their dad’s office once a week for 3 hours just like last summer and be paid for it which in my opinion is real kindness not a necessity. They will learn about the family business and be given small jobs to do to help out.
Bird will also have therapy over the summer with Les and Nick likely 10-12 hours of week in total. They will work on everything from advanced academics to socialization with the attempt of sending Bird into 6th grade looking better than he left 5th grade by a lot. At Bird’s IEP I was assured by both the Gen Ed teacher and LD teacher that Bird looks great next to his peers academically and is a very warm, sweet and funny guy but our goal is as always that be blends a little better.
It does not sound like the restful summer so many others think of it especially for Bird! Bird does not get the easy life during the school year either with 4 hours a week of therapy and 1:1 reading with mom 5 days a week! The truth is that autism does not lend itself to success if leisure is present. Even when Bird is not working he is subjected to a lot of corrective feedback and questions about comprehension (like last night watching Wild Pacific on Discovery Channel when they used a few idioms I was not sure he knew). The goal of his tremendous patience with us ever in his ear and face is that he be allowed in the next 3 years to have an actual restful summer! I would love to see him at 14 or 15 doing well enough to simply do swim team, work with his dad and do the normal chores and summer reading the other kids are doing but for now we will keep on keeping on in the words of the Brady Bunch.
I wish you all a great but not necessarily restful summer!