Navigating the School Holidays

July 14, 2021 Case Studies - Families Ann Anderson


6 weeks of no routine… no structure… no playdates or sleepovers… ring any bells?

Yeah, us too!

Mind you, we usually had an extra week too. As you parents will know all too well, the last week of term is rather lax with NO routine, NO structure & certainly less rules than a usual school week. Whilst some children really enjoy that winding down experience, it is not much use for a child on the Autistic Spectrum! Depending on my husband’s shifts we would welcome James’ “Authorised Absence” and sometimes even manage a sharp exit abroad before the rest of the Scottish schools finished up. Spain, here we come!

But not always. Sometimes it was just James & I for the beginning of the holidays and it could be really difficult.


Mum, can I go out to play on my bike? Yeah of course, remember and wear your helmet.

Half hour peace, a hot cuppa perhaps I think to myself… if only.

Why are you back so soon? Is there not anybody out playing? They said they don’t want to play with me!

This is only day 1 and my husband is offshore for another 3 weeks.

Fancy going swimming with your friend and the mums will have a coffee while watching you kids? Then we can head to the park & have ice cream! Oh PLEASE, when, when, when? After lunch sweetheart, now let’s get your trunks looked out.

Both boys wanted to use the changing room without their mums, a huge step while still at primary school but a positive one, or so we thought… Swimming went well, although James had quite a few prompts to get out the pool… I can almost taste the ice cream.

Waiting for the boys to come out the changing room. Friend appears first… in tears. Sorry Ann, but we won’t be going for ice cream. (I believe James hid the towels and didn’t realise this would upset anyone). Friend and Mum leave, James appears and wonders what’s happened?! Cue a meltdown at the pool & eventually my tears!

We still enjoyed our (drive-through) ice cream though, and better still, Dad was due home the next day!



Sometimes no matter what you try,  you’re set to fail.


What would you like to do today? Don’t know, not fussed?

Cue Mum & Dad with laminated cards: ‘Wii’, ‘Baking’, ‘Movie’, ‘Games’, ‘Colouring In’, ‘Make a Den’, ‘Go to the Park’, etc etc etc. No matter what we would suggest James didn’t want to do any of these things, and he made sure we knew it!

So, exit one parent (usually me). It took a while but we soon realised that James was, and very much still is better 1-1. This way there is not as much conflict & nobody to play off against each other. Even now at almost 18, one of us will leave the house to go for a walk or drive just to try to solve an episode.



As a family we went, and still do, go on a lot of picnics. We were always careful to choose where we went but no matter how careful we were and how much planning went into things, it almost always ended with a parent coming over because James had said or done something to their kid.

Cue more tears and an early exit. You will notice tears and early exits become regular things!


Finding What Works For You

We learned over time that quieter spaces and activities, where James could be more focussed, were better for everyone but most importantly James. We began going up the Glens with a few tin cans for targets and a few ‘Nerf’ guns. He loves this. Ironically, the perfect peace! It may take a while but you will find the things that work for your family. There is no right or wrong answer.

Then of course towards the end of the holidays comes the dreaded uniform shop.

My handy tried & tested tips: order different sizes online and then you have plenty time to try on when your wee ones are in their own surroundings, rather than shop changing rooms! And, ‘Yes Kids’, they will be itchy but reassure after a few washes with lots of magic conditioner they will tons better!

This is just a small insight to my family’s experience during the summer holidays. It’s not easy and we’ve all been through it. Hopefully you can relate and realise once again that “You are not alone”. Looking back over the years I only wanted to think about and remember all the good times but I’m reminded of all the meltdowns we endured, the bickering and swearing. I am determined not to ‘Sugar Coat’ anything as I want to be open and true about my family’s experiences.

Excitedly, this Summer ENABLE Scotland’s ACE Youth and ACE Connect have a fantastic Summer Session program to keep everyone entertained. Please have a look and see how it might allow you to have a nice cuppa and half an hour to yourself.

Happy Holidays!


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