Article by Stephanie Ekis, MS, CCC-SLP
At the beginning of every month, I sit down with the calendar that lives on my refrigerator in my house and write down all of the things that need to be accomplished. It quickly becomes filled with appointments, to-do lists and various other things that need to be completed. It is not unusual for me to look back at my calendar and realize that there are very few “fun-time” appointments. In my younger years, I would often laugh at people who actually scheduled a date with their spouse or wrote down times to work out at the gym. I never understood why those things needed to be written down. Now I understand…it is really easy to let recreational and leisure activities fall by the wayside because there are so many other things to do.
I can only imagine how busy a household might be when raising a child with autism. Medical appointments, therapy visits and keeping up with school is a full-time job. Consider recreation and leisure as another opportunity for your child to learn the skills they need to participate in the world around them. You may have to explore a bit to find the things that are of interest to your child, but it will be well worth it in the end. There are so many emotional, communication and social benefits to rec/leisure activities.
- Increases confidence.
- Allows children with autism to experience new things.
- Promotes a good quality of life.
- Allows a child to contribute and feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
- Bridges the gap between just “being” in the community to actually participating in it.
- Allows children with autism to build friendships.
- Provides an opportunity to practice socially appropriate skills.
- Allows children with autism to practice communication skills in meaningful every day environments.
- Gives access to a variety of communication partners.
- Builds communication independence.
- Allows children to make choices.
NOTE: Part of the definition of a recreational and leisure activity is that it is “freely chosen” by the individual, so be sure to offer different options.
HINT: In order to participate in recreation and leisure activities, your child must have a functional way to communicate. If your child has difficulty communicating with others and you are interested in learning about how AAC can help support effective communication in all environments, click on the InterAACt graphic below to read more.