8 Autism-Friendly Summer Activities in Virginia

Autism-Friendly Summer Activities

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How can my autistic child enjoy the summer?

Throughout the year, we enjoy special times to be with family and step away from our usual schedules. Summer is one of these periods, with school holidays and a pause from work for some. However, these shifts in routine and holidays can be challenging for parents who need to think creatively about autism-friendly summer activities for their children on the spectrum.

You might wonder, how can my autistic child enjoy the summer? Like any other time, individuals with autism can be affected by changes in their routines, causing them anxiety. Additionally, places are usually busier during this time, with more noise, which can heighten sensory sensitivities for those on the spectrum. But with careful preparation and understanding of your child’s needs and preferences, you can create autism-friendly summer activities for everyone to enjoy.

Therefore, in this blog by ABA Centers of Virginia, we will provide some tips on how families in Arlington and Washington D.C. can enjoy the summer holidays without affecting the unique conditions of their loved ones diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Sensory Sensitivities in Autism

Autism challenges

Autism, a complex neurodevelopmental condition, manifests through challenges in various aspects, such as social interaction, communication, behavior, and sensory processing. Individuals on the autism spectrum often experience heightened sensory sensitivities, which can significantly impact their daily lives.

Sensory processing difficulties in autism can manifest in different ways. According to Pediatric Research, some individuals may be hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, finding certain sounds, textures, or lights overwhelming. On the other hand, some individuals may be hyposensitive, seeking out sensory input to a greater extent than others.

These sensory challenges are crucial to address when creating inclusive environments for individuals with autism. By understanding and accommodating sensory needs, we can help enhance their comfort and well-being. Moreover, by raising awareness about sensory processing differences, we can promote greater acceptance and support for individuals with autism.

Therefore, it is essential to know the needs and discomforts of our loved ones with autism to not expose them to overstimulated environments that may cause them distress and prevent them from enjoying family time.

8 Autism-Friendly Summer Activities

1. Nature Walks

Enjoying leisurely walks in nature, whether on trails or in quiet parks, offers a calming and refreshing experience. Connecting with nature helps everyone relax. It allows kids to explore different textures and enjoy soothing sounds, providing a break from the busyness of daily life.

2. Water Fun

Swimming or playing in a calm pool is a great way to relax and have fun. Water activities can be sensory-rich, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, which is especially beneficial for individuals with autism. Consider inflatable pools or peaceful splash pads for a soothing water play experience.

Kid having fun in a pool

3. Gardening

Gardening, whether planting flowers or vegetables or just getting your hands dirty, is a rewarding and therapeutic activity for the whole family. It helps improve motor skills and lets children connect with nature, offering a sense of peace and fulfillment.

4. Art in the Outdoors

Hosting art workshops outdoors, in a beautiful garden or a peaceful park as the backdrop, allows kids to get creative and explore with their senses. They can try out painting, working with clay, or using chalk to play with different textures and colors in a calm and inspiring environment. Whether it’s sketching the details of a flower or shaping clay to show the beauty of nature, these outdoor art sessions spark creativity and communication.

5. Picnic

Packing a hamper with favorite treats and refreshing beverages and engaging in simple yet enjoyable games like blowing bubbles or tossing a frisbee transforms an ordinary day into a memorable outdoor escapade. The combination of good food, laughter, and the scenic backdrop of nature creates a perfect recipe for relaxation and family connection.

6. Sensory Adventures at Home


Transforming the backyard into a haven of sensory delights, featuring interactive stations with a variety of textures and objects, opens up a world of exploration and play for children with autism. This autism-friendly summer activity and adventure provides a safe and controlled environment for kids to discover and play, encouraging moments of wonder and joy in the comfort of their backyard while supporting their sensory needs.

8 autism-friendly summer activities in virginia

7. Sensory-Friendly Spaces

In Virginia, you can find autism-friendly spaces accommodated for everyone’s needs:

  • Amazement Square has the Certified Autism Center designation; here, you can find quiet spaces, distract packs, special family night events, and more autism-friendly activities
  • The Science Museum of Virginia provides sensory backpacks and has quiet zones in case your kid experiences sensory sensitivities
  • Enjoy the special needs Sundays at the Children’s Museum of Virginia.
  • The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk provides sensory inclusion by raising awareness about the challenges faced by individuals with ASD and providing sensory bags and accommodations

8. Cooking Together

Preparing simple recipes together, like cookies, pizzas, or smoothies, at home is a fun and sensory activity. Working with different ingredients in a familiar setting can be rewarding and educational for everyone involved.

ABA Centers of Virginia Supports Neurodiverse Families

At ABA Centers of Virginia, we understand that navigating summer breaks can be challenging for kids with adherence to routines and sensory sensitivities, as well as for parents looking for practical ways to have their kids enjoy the holidays. However, with knowledge, patience, and creativity, you can create autism-friendly summer activities designed to have fun while improving social skills and social interaction.

Through ABA therapy, we help kids navigate the many facets of autism with greater confidence. Our customized therapy plans aim to develop positive abilities while managing challenging behaviors and the sensory difficulties they experience every day.

If you need support to improve the lives of your loved ones with autism, don’t hesitate to call us at (855) 957-1892 or contact us online to check your insurance options and therapy plans.



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