It’s not easy entertaining an SEND child during the school holidays.
I always laugh (to myself) when I hear parents of neuro-typical children lamenting how arduous and exhausting the holidays are, wondering what to do to keep everyone entertained. I don’t do it but often feel like giving them an example of a typical day in the life of an SEND child during the holidays. I know it would make many people truly thank their lucky stars.
This half term, I want to really embrace our time with Jude. He’s back for the whole week and everyone is excited to see him home again. I want to make every day special. However it isn’t always that simple and as usual I have to remind myself that what I or the girls may find fun, Jude doesn’t necessarily agree with. I have to try and place myself in his shoes, take his cues and very much follow his lead. Easier said than done with the girls around as well but I see this half term as very much Jude’s holiday. It’s his time at home and I don’t want to mess it up!
One problem we have is that there seems to be fewer and fewer things that Jude likes to do and he manages to express his dislike for particular activities in an ever increasingly turbulent way. We can’t really risk it now. His meltdowns are hard going and stressful all round so in the past we often found that holidays were spent at home with someone coming to watch Jude whilst I took the girls out to wherever the wanted to go.
There are a few places he enjoys that we can replicate as often as necessary:
Jude loves to go swimming. You have to catch him in the right mood but this has been an activity he has always enjoyed. Water in general is a huge love of his.
Jude loves to go trampolining. The noise doesn’t seem to bother him here and with what feels like a million bouncing children, Jude can blend into the background and burn off all that energy for a little while.
Jude loves soft play centres. We don’t go there a huge amount but it’s certainly somewhere that he and Emmeline have fun. Elsa is a bit bored of this sort of entertainment these days, however she loves to lead Emmeline around in that sort of big sisterly way she expresses so well.
Again dependent on his mood, Jude likes going to the park. The park is where we have had some wonderful and some horrific experiences but Jude doesn’t seem phased and loves to swing freely on the swings and spin like a loon on the roundabout.
Here are the feelings of some other SEND parents about the holidays and how they fill the time as a family:
- Visit family where you know your child will feel safe. I agree with this one very much as we spent an awful lot of time at my parents house during the summer holiday. Jude feels content there, I’m able to relax a bit so it’s a definite go to place to visit (if that even counts as a place to visit?!)
- Attending trampoline parks or swimming pools as soon as they open or for the last hour of the day so they are quieter. Sad but true but the less people present, the better for most families of SEND children.
- Visits to the beach whatever the weather and park trips when it’s raining as they are quiet and therefore less hectic/stressful/nightmarish.
- Lots of outdoorsy activities such as walks in the woods, beaches and parks because there’s so much space and it is therefore less busy and overwhelming.
- One mother mentioned that they can only go places that have adequate changing facilities and because they are so busy during the school holidays, it’s rare for them to go out. I find this so sad; can you see the pattern? I’d love to use this information in some way to help people feel they can go out whatever the time of day but I’m just not sure what that is yet.
What activities does your child enjoy when they aren’t at school?