The Pros & Cons of Summer When Your Kid Has Autism
Summer used to be my favorite season. Spending long lazy afternoons on the beach or lounging poolside sipping on a tropical drink into the early evening. I could just get dressed and go. And I loved the long weekend days and nights with the possibility of nothing or everything to do.
Then I became a mom. And summer took on a whole different meaning. A trip to the beach or pool required packing a bag of stuff. My days of basking in the sun and working on my tan became non-existent. Lounging poolside is no longer an option. Oh no, I am in the pool till my skin wrinkles. Don't even get me started on the beach! And while I have my bucket list of things to do on the weekends around NYC, those last few weeks of August need to be filled.
Being a special needs mom who works outside of the home can be stressful. It requires a lot of juggling and usually very little sleep. And while summer is still one of my favorite times of the year, it's not as carefree as it used to be. There are pros and cons to being a working mom during the summer months when your kid has autism...
Pro: Warmer weather means less clothes to wear making it easier for my kid to dress himself. (For parents who still have to dress their kids, summer could be the ideal time to teach them to dress independently.)
Con: It's the end of the school year and every parent on social media is celebrating graduations, honor rolls, high school/college acceptances and proms. It's hard to look at those things and not wonder whether my kid will ever be able to do any of it.
Pro: Longer days and warmer weather means coming home from work and being able to take my kid out for ice cream, to the pool or park.
Con: More time outside means laundry (and other things around the house) piles up. The pro to that is - you're not home long enough to see it.
Pro: Summer Fridays! My office has summer Fridays which means I can start my weekend earlier.
Con: Mom guilt kicks in full force. You see other kids having a summer of leisure while your kid spends his summer in school.
Pro: Norrin has an extended school year. Which means he'll be in school for July and the first two weeks of August. I am so grateful because not all programs have an ESY. And I love that his school has a pool and a nice playground with an open field and picnic benches.
The Pros & Cons for after the ESY is over.
Pro: Not having to run for the bus each morning. It will be nice to be able to get ready at our own pace.
Con: Being completely out of our routine. Keeping a routine has never been a strength of mine but it's easier to maintain during the school year. Come summer - routine is out the window. Those last three weeks are usually crazy - with a flurry of sitters and traveling between boroughs by train.
Pro: Being completely out of our routine. Norrin likes his routine and knowing what comes next. But life doesn't always work like that and you need to know how to go with the flow and roll with the punches. Summer gives us an opportunity to work on that life skill.
Con: Child care or lack thereof. I have a hard time getting a sitter throughout the school year. I am fortunate my parents help us with after-school pick up but I can't expect them to watch him 5 days a week for 8 hours a day. The bottom line is there aren't enough special education day care programs that I feel comfortable with. The ones that are available can cost up to $1500 a week. Then there are the ones that are covered through the medicaid waiver but the people in charge don't usually have experience with special needs - I don't trust them. And the ones for typical kids (that I can afford) aren't equipped to deal with a kid like mine.
What are your pros & cons of summer?