5 mins read

Autism and Summer School

Beyond regular school is summer school.

I never took a class during summer school. When I went to school, you took the summer off or you went to camps (for me, it was sports camps).

These days, it’s quite common for kids as young as middle school to take a class during the summer.

What about my son?

My son used to go to an OT (occupational therapy) type of summer program. I say it like that because it wasn’t formal school. There wasn’t teachers, but facilitators. The days were structured to maximize, well, structure. They were in school at a certain time, they did projects inside the classroom, there were plenty of breaks to allow the kids to go outside, and they went home at a certain time.

The idea was that kids with autism struggled with the transition from school to summer, and then summer to school. Changes in their routines.

This kind of program, that highlighted OT over regular classroom instruction, kept a routine in place for, at least, a portion of the summer. It was six weeks long, I think. It also might have taken place only Monday through Thursday.

I have a spotty memory on some of the details because this program was only for elementary students. The last time my son was in that program was the summer he was transitioning from 5th to 6th grade.

That was the last time he was eligible to go (if I remember correctly).

What happened after that program?

My son finished up elementary school (6th grade) and moved on to middle school.

Middle school was a huge transition for him, and for us. My son had gone to the same school for seven years, K through 6th grade. He even had speech at this school when he was in pre-school.

That’s a lot of time spent at the same location.

My son had to change locations to a much bigger campus and with a LOT more students. I think seven elementary schools funneled 6th grade kids to this one middle school.

That’s quite a transition for a child with autism.

What did we do?

We had our son take an English class during that summer. At that time, English was his worst subject. He did okay, but some extra work in English wasn’t a bad idea for him.

The main idea, however, was to get him on the campus and get him used to it. No, all of those kids were not there during the summer classes, but we thought even some experience BEFORE he began formal studies at his new school couldn’t hurt.

During the summer between 7th and 8th grade, my son didn’t take any class.

Then, came the summer before high school.

What happened then?

My son, like many of the incoming freshman, took the required health class, a three-week accelerated course that would satisfy his health requirement and free up an elective option during freshman year.

Again, we saw this class as an opportunity to get our son used to yet another new campus—the even larger high school campus (with even more kids than the middle school).

The three weeks during that summer helped him get comfortable at his new school (yet again).

What’s he doing this summer?

Pretty much a similar thing, he’s taking a six-week long, accelerated history class (World History) in order to satisfy the sophomore year history requirement in order to free up an elective option.

The school have three or four classes for this course, which means many of peers are doing the same thing. My son has a few buddies taking it with him.

Is taking a class at this level always a good idea?

Going straight from freshman year finals and going right back into an accelerated history course isn’t for everyone. First, many family travel in the summer. Some students volunteer at camps, and older students have jobs.

Additionally, some kids coming off the stress of their first year in high school just need the break.

Luckily for my kid, he loves history. He has told me that if it wasn’t a topic that he liked so much, he may not have wanted to take a summer class.

Plus, he added, maybe next year he could take a summer off!

Which is not a bad idea. He works hard and we are satisfied that he’s getting a decent education.

Everyone deserves a break now and then! Autism and Summer School.


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