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Five Tips for a Successful Family Outing with your Child with Autism 

For any parent, coordinating a family activity can be a difficult task.  

But when one or all of your children fall somewhere on the autism spectrum, the challenges can become overwhelming or prevent families from enjoying much-needed quality time together.  

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Director of Family and Community Services Amy Kelly – and a mother to three children (one with autism) – shares five essential planning tips for parents to enjoy recreational and fun family activities. 

  • Have a plan: Make sure to prepare all members of your family – particularly your child with autism – with a plan of the day’s activities. Your plan should be explained verbally and through visuals like pictures, maps and schedules, to plot the day out ahead of time. If you are visiting a museum, ask for a brochure to be sent to your home so you can walk your child through the day before you leave the house. The more your child knows what to expect, the more likely you all will have a great day. 
  • Create a toolkit: Before you go anywhere, pack a bag with the necessary “tools” your child with autism will need. This toolkit should include communication devices, an iPad, sensory/fidget toys or other items that will help soothe your child. Don’t forget a change of clothes or special foods or treats your child needs to remain calm. Having this toolkit will help you address any discomfort immediately, and can help prevent a potential tantrum. 
  • Be prepared to leave: Any parent of a child with autism will tell you that, sometimes, even the best plans fail, as there are many unforeseen triggers that may upset your child. If it truly is a day of leisure, be accepting of the fact that you may need to leave early. Having this discussion with all members of your family will set expectations and prevent emotions from running high if you need to make an early exit. 
  • Have an extra set of eyes: Don’t try to do it alone. Be prepared with additional adult supervision and assistance to manage the day, especially if you have multiple children. This can be anyone from a therapist who can address the needs of your child with autism, or a grandparent who can help attend to the other siblings when your full attention is required elsewhere. If someone like this is not available, the peace of mind that comes with the support of a paid babysitter can be invaluable. 
  • Safety first: Always research the venue before you leave the house and understand the risk factors. Whether it’s a park, a pool, a museum, or your own backyard, know where you are going and what can you do to prepare. If the space is out in the open and you know your child tends to wander, add a nametag to his or her shirt with your contact information – just in case. If you are going somewhere crowded, like a sporting event, make sure you have additional adult supervision to monitor the situation. 

With summer in full swing, many families are anticipating funs ways to enjoy time outside the house. Planning for these adventures ahead of time will ensure that any outing is fun for everyone! 

To learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health and our legacy of helping individuals, families and communities in need, click here

About Amy Kelly …

Amy Kelly is the mother to Danny, Annie and Ryan. Annie is diagnosed with moderate to severe autism, verbal apraxia, intellectual and developmental disabilities and general anxiety disorder. Amy is the Director of Family/Community Services for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare, and serves as a family representative on several special needs boards in the community, locally and nationally. In addition, she participates with other patients and families in efforts supported by the American Board of Pediatrics Foundation and the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network to address children with special needs and the importance of quality care.

  

  

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