The summertime brings all sorts of major changes to young children’s lives. Their routines are gone, and they no longer see their friends every day. Special needs students may not have the same amount of access to therapies that helped them break out of their shells or feel more confident in society. All of these changes can play into the huge amounts of loneliness that some students feel over the summer break. Learning more about how to help these students and about when to leave children on their own can give parents and other caregivers the confidence they need to lead these children successfully through the next two to three months.
If your child is simply having a bit of a struggle reaching out due to shyness or social anxiety, there are a few things that you can do to ease the situation. First, if your child is old enough, consider chatting with him or her about social issues. Your child may be particularly nervous about one particular thing with which you can help him. Second, you may be able to teach your child strategies for social success, and you can certainly always model good social behavior yourself.
You may also want to plan social activities at your house where your special needs child most likely feels the most confident. Consider hosting a small playdate with just one or two other children. Also, do not look down on family activities. These are also social activities, and they have the benefit of allowing children to socialize with the people with whom they feel the most comfortable.