Our Summer Plan

So, summer break is here.  How did that happen??  One minute it’s May, and the next… Well.  The Boy has two weeks of vacation, just enough time to drive him up a wall.  He is spending leisurely, unstructured days at Grammy’s until ESY starts up.  ESY this year will consist of him meeting up with his teacher at the local library and doing God knows what school-type things for an hour and a half.  And then four weeks out of the summer he will go to a day camp for kids on the spectrum and their siblings, the same one he went to last year, which he grew to love.  And then he’ll have two weeks off again in August before starting up again, one of which will be spent visiting with Fantastic Babysitter and her new baby who are coming to visit (and I CAN’T WAIT TO GET MY BABY FIX!!!).

And me?  I’m not missing the summer break yet.  My job can be stressful, but I do not need the break anywhere as much as I did when I was a teacher.  Plus I live at the beach, so any time I get too stressed…  I don’t want to make you too jealous. 😉

Grammy is being the wonderful grammy that she is, and taking off work a day this week and next to take him somewhere special, maybe the waterpark, maybe a movie to spend some quality Grammy-Boy time with him.  And I get off work fairly early so that we can still go do stuff together.

I’ve seen some other great ideas for adding a little structure to the summer:

  • This one has a theme-a-day which is great to fit into your schedule when you need it or want it
  • These are some great ways to prep your child for the changes in routine, and how to add some structure to the summer
  • And this is a comprehensive list of ideas and resources to ensure brains are still engaged in the summer months

I hope you are ready.  I feel pretty good about it, at least for The Boy.  I hope we still get to spend some family time together, and it doesn’t fly by too fast.  It’s still my favorite season.

Let us know what you’ve got planned in the comments!

ESY Is Different Down Here

ESY, or Extended School Year, has been a mainstay of The Boy’s summer experience since he was six years old.  I have written about some of his experiences in the past, and he always looked forward to it when we lived up north.  Last year, he struggled with adapting to a summer day camp which did not include computers, and was not like school very much at all, although he ended up enjoying the experience and meeting some new (and long-lasting) friends.

Before we moved here, I asked some parents with whom I had connected in advance, through the autism society’s local chapter whether or not they knew anything about the local ESY program.  They had no idea what I was talking about…

“Uh-oh”, I thought.

When we went through the IEP process this year, the assistant director for special education for the school district was involved (because I was trying to get The Boy into his current program, and being the warrior mom that I need to be to get things done from time to time), and she indicated then that ESY for this summer would be a long-shot.  We would have to prove he needed it with data. “I’ve got six years of data backing me up,” I thought.

And this year’s IEP rolled around and his special ed teacher for language arts and math basically explained that even if he did qualify, which she clearly didn’t believe he did, it was very different from what we had experienced up north.  Down here, it was basically one-on-one tutoring with an aide for a few hours a week.

“Oh crap,” I thought.

I immediately began to devise activities with which I could supplement his summer camp – was there a computer camp or cartooning lessons I could find somewhere (and could I even afford it)?

The Boy’s program teacher called about two weeks later to let me know that they had determined that The Boy would qualify for ESY this year, because he had had it for so many years, and that they would continue to collect data next school year to determine whether or not he would qualify for the following year.

“Yay… kind of,” I thought.

Now we need to determine where this “ESY” experience will occur, and how often and for how long.  Luckily he will have his program teacher, which helps with the continuity.  But it remains to be seen how effective this brand of summer enrichment will be toward maintaining the structure and routine that most kids on the spectrum need through the summer months.

sandy boy

Got Your Summer Booked Yet?

One of the biggest anxieties The Boy has about moving is that he will miss his ESY program (that’s Extended School Year, if you weren’t aware).  ESY is a service that public schools provide to children who would otherwise take a drastic step backward in their academic and behavioral progress if they did not continue a type of school structure through the summer months.  Many districts keep this service on the down-low because if parents don’t know about it, and don’t ask about it, and they don’t happen to mention it at the IEP, they don’t have to have a program and pay for it.  I know districts that do this on purpose, intimately. Some districts even go so far as to tell parents that their children don’t need it, just so that they don’t have to have a program…

But The Boy’s district has a fabulous program, although it has scaled back even in the five years The Boy has attended, I’m assuming due to funding cuts.  In any case, he digs it.  Looks forward to it, and collects the T-shirts (even from years before he attended, thanks to an awesome gift from his amazing ASD teacher).  It’s like really, really laid back school.  But it’s structure, and school-like, so The Boy can’t get enough.

The Pink Shirt

Now, when we move, from what I can tell, there is nothing like that where we will be.  Plan B is a summer program offered either by the Boys and Girls Club or the City Parks and Rec department.  If it isn’t Boy-friendly (i.e. they’re not used to having special needs kids participate…), it soon will be. I can guarantee that.

I just hope we can get him in a daily program with enough structure that he will enjoy it, and maybe meet some new friends.  It breaks my heart that he won’t be able to attend ESY, but I hope with a little planning and forethought, we can find him the next best thing.

Wish us luck!