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Empowering Children with Cognitive Impairments During Summer 

Summer is usually a time full of relaxation, time to spend with family and friends, and plans for great vacations. This isn’t usually the case for parents of children with cognitive impairments, though. For these parents, they know that summer is going to be much more difficult for their child and their family.  

What Difficulties do Children with Cognitive Impairments Face During Summer?  

  • Routine: Children with cognitive impairments thrive under a regular schedule where they, at least roughly, know what to expect and when. So, when a child has been in school for 8 months out of the year they get very used to their routine while in school. Then, once summer begins, they suddenly have to learn a whole new routine! The sudden change can feel uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and intimidating. This dysregulation can cause them mental and emotional stress, making this a difficult transition period. 
  • Lack of Social Opportunities: Many children with cognitive impairments have some challenges associated with their communication and social skills. While in school, they have ample opportunities to grow and practice these skills but once they are home for the summer, those opportunities are most likely going to be very few and far between.  This sudden decline in opportunities to socialize may cause their overall social skills to decline and they may lose some of the progress they made during the school year.  
  • Loss of Education/Learning: As with any child, the summer months are often filled with deficits and losses of learning. While in school, students are regularly reading, constantly being exposed to new materials and concepts, and gaining new academic skills. Summer is a disruption to this learning that often results in students losing some of the knowledge they gained during the school year simply because they are no longer practicing and thinking about those skills.  

What Can You Do at Home During Summer?  

Create a Schedule & Stick to it:

summer schedule

One of the best things you can do for your child with a cognitive impairment is to create a schedule for the summer months so that they have something to stick to. This schedule could include eating breakfast at a specific time, reading time, educational time, games time, outdoor time, etc. No matter what schedule you decide to create for your child, it is essential that you are consistent and stick to it as much as possible. Being inconsistent with a schedule will lead to poor results and will not help to regulate how your child feels after experiencing disruption from their school schedule. If possible, prepping your child ahead of time to make them aware before a schedule change will help them to adjust to new situations with ease and comfort.  

Plan Social Activities:

To help your child continue to maintain and grow their social skills, try to plan different social activities that il allow them to continue practicing these skills. These activities could be things like meeting with a friend to play a game, attending community events at libraries or other public areas, or signing up for summer activities like bowling, gardening, swimming, etc. These opportunities will help improve your child’s communication skills, ensure your child maintains any social and emotional learning they gained throughout the school year, and will help them to feel more confident in themselves and around others.  

Plan Educational Activities:

summer reading

Finally, planning educational activities can help make sure your child does not experience the loss of learning that is common for school-age children over the summer.  Reading with your child and then discussing the book can be a great way to help them practice their reading comprehension skills, doing different science experiments can be a great way to engage your child’s curiosity and learn new science skills, having scheduled match times can help your child advance their match capabilities, etc. The possibilities are truly endless! 


In conclusion, the summer months can present unique challenges for children with cognitive impairments and their families. The disruption of routines, limited social opportunities, and potential learning loss can create additional stress and difficulties during this time. However, there are proactive steps that parents can take to support their child’s well-being and promote continued growth. By creating a structured schedule, planning social activities, and incorporating educational experiences, parents can help their child navigate the summer successfully. These strategies not only provide a sense of stability and familiarity but also offer opportunities for skill development and maintaining progress made during the school year. With thoughtful planning and consistent implementation, parents can empower their children with cognitive impairments to have a fulfilling and enriching summer that contributes to their overall development and happiness. 

Cooking for Picky Eaters: Nurturing Kids with Autism and Food Aversions 

Cooking for children who are picky eaters can be challenging, especially when it obtains to children with food aversions such as many children with autism. A child’s diet plays a crucial role in their overall health and development. In turn, this diet plays a huge role in your child’s life and if your child is a picky eater or has food aversions, they may not be getting everything they need from their diet to be healthy. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have sensory sensitivities and rigid eating patterns, leading to limited food preferences. Some children with ASD may have heightened sensitivities to taste, texture, and smell, which can contribute to their aversions. Ensuring a well-rounded diet is crucial in maintaining your child’s health, promoting their growth, and supporting overall development. 

Common Food Aversions in Children with Autism: 

 While food preferences can vary among individuals, there are some common food aversions that frequently appear in children with autism: 

  • Textural Challenges: Many children with autism struggle with certain textures, such as crunchy or slimy foods, leading them to avoid fruits, vegetables, or meats. 
  • Limited Food Groups: Some children with autism may stick to a few preferred food groups, such as carbohydrates or processed foods, neglecting the necessary nutrients.  
  • Sensory Sensitivities: Strong flavors or smells may trigger aversions in children with autism, making it challenging to introduce new or unfamiliar foods. 
  • Color or Presentation: A child’s preference for specific colors or food presentation styles may limit their choices, affecting the variety in their diet. 

Incorporating Nutrient-Rich Foods:  

Ensuring children with autism receive a balanced diet is essential for their growth and development. Here are some nutrient-rich foods to include in their meals: 

  • Protein Sources: Offer lean meats, poultry, fish, or plant-based alternatives like beans and lentils to provide essential amino acids and support muscle development. 
  • Colorful Fruits and Vegetables: Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as berries, oranges, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes, to provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 
  • Healthy Fats: Include sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, which provide omega-3 fatty acids and support brain function. 
  • Whole Grains: Opt for gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and gluten-free oats to provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 
  • Dairy Alternatives: If your child is lactose intolerant or has dairy aversions, consider providing plant-based milks such as almond, cashew, or coconut milks that are rich in vitamins! 

Tricks to Work Around Food Aversions:

Here are some helpful strategies to navigate food aversions and encourage a healthier eating experience: 

  • Gradual Exposure: Introduce new foods gradually, allowing your child to explore them through sight, touch, and smell before attempting to taste. 
  • Food Pairing: Combine less preferred foods with favorite choices to increase acceptance and familiarity. 
  • Food Modifications: Alter the texture or presentation of a food to make it more appealing, such as blending vegetables into sauces or purees. 
  • Food Chaining: Build upon preferred foods by gradually introducing similar alternatives, expanding their palate over time. 
  • Cooking Together: Involve your child in meal preparation and make it a fun and interactive experience to increase their interest in trying new foods. 

Kid-Friendly Gluten-Free Recipes:  

Here are a few delicious and nutritious recipes that cater to picky eaters, including those on a gluten-free diet: 

  • Mini Veggie Frittatas: Combine whisked eggs, chopped vegetables (such as bell peppers, spinach, and mushrooms), and shredded cheese. Bake in a muffin tin until set and golden brown. 
  • Chicken and Vegetable Skewers: Alternate marinated chicken cubes with colorful vegetables like cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and bell peppers on skewers. Grill or bake until cooked through. 
  • Cauliflower Pizza Bites: Blend cooked cauliflower florets with eggs, gluten-free breadcrumbs, and seasoning. Form into small patties and bake until golden. Top with tomato sauce and cheese. 
  • Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers: Cook quinoa according to package instructions and mix with sautéed vegetables, ground meat (optional), and spices. Stuff the mixture into halved bell peppers and bake until tender. 
  • Banana Oat Cookies: Mash ripe bananas and mix with gluten-free oats, nut butter, and a touch of honey. Shape into cookies and bake until lightly golden. 

Have Lunch at The Oxford Center!

Cooking for picky eaters, especially those with autism and food aversions, requires patience, creativity, and a focus on nutrient-rich foods. By understanding the concerns, incorporating essential nutrients, implementing tricks to work around aversions, and exploring kid-friendly, gluten-free recipes, parents and caregivers can promote healthy eating habits while catering to their child’s unique needs. At The Oxford Center, we understand how important it is to make sure your child is getting everything they need to grow up happy and healthy. That’s why our lunch program is completely individualized to what will be best for you and your child!

TOC Talks Episode 7: “Do You Know Your ABA’s?”

In this Episode of TOC Talks, Andrew sits down with Jessica Dodson, our ABA Director to talk all about what ABA is and what all is involved! They discuss what a BCBA is, how to become one, and what student program we offer to help on the way to becoming a BCBA. Tune in to find out why our ABA program is different from others and how our ABA goes beyond just the program in our center. This is not one to miss!

Check It Out!

Want to learn more about our ABA program? Check out what we have to offer! ABA & Autism Services – The Oxford Center

Check out our episode and don’t forget to subscribe to TOC Talks! We can be found on all your favorite Audio or Podcast platforms as well as video podcasts on our YouTube and Facebook pages! Find us at the links below!

Want to stay connected and up to date on what is happening at The Oxford Center? Make sure to follow our Social Media Pages! If you would like to find our TOC Talks Podcast page, click on the link below.  

TOC Talks |

TOC Talks – Do you Know your ABA’s? TOC Talks EP:7 |

Tips and Tricks for Managing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at Home

Any parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) knows what a challenge it can be to manage the condition at home, ON TOP of managing everything else at home. Being a parent is such a wonderful gift, but it is also a full-time job and can be exhausting at times. Adding on managing an ASD diagnosis could very easily prove to be exhausting for many parents. Thankfully, The Oxford Center can share some tips and tricks to help you manage while providing the best environment possible for your children and yourself.  

Tips and Tricks to Help you Manage ASD at Home  

  • Establish a routine: Having a structured routine can provide comfort and stability for individuals with autism. Keep a consistent schedule for daily activities, such as mealtimes and bedtime.  
  • Create a sensory-friendly environment: Autistic individuals may have sensitivities to light, sound, and touch. Try to minimize sensory triggers by using soft lighting, avoiding loud noises, and incorporating soft textures in the home.  
  • Use visual aids: Visual aids, such as schedules and diagrams, can help individuals with autism understand and follow routines. Use pictures, symbols, and charts to help with communication and organization.  
  • Encourage independence: Autistic individuals often benefit from learning and practicing new skills. Encourage independence by allowing them to participate in daily activities, such as cooking and cleaning.  
  • Provide a quiet space: It is important for individuals with autism to have a quiet space to retreat to when they become overwhelmed. A designated quiet room or corner can provide a calming environment.  
  • Practice social skills: Autistic individuals may have difficulties with social interaction. Encourage and practice social skills at home by playing games and engaging in conversation.  
  • Implement calming strategies: Autistic individuals may become overwhelmed and need to calm down. Implement calming strategies, such as deep breathing exercises, to help manage emotions.  
  • Seek professional help: If necessary, seek the help of professionals, such as therapists or behavior specialists, to support individuals with autism and provide resources for managing autism at home. 

Managing autism spectrum disorder at home can be a challenge, but with patience, understanding, and the right strategies, individuals with autism can lead happy and fulfilling lives.  

How to Practice Self-Care While Managing ASD at Home

As parents, we love our children and always want the best for them. Sometimes, we get so focused on taking care of our children and families that we forget about taking care of ourselves too. We all know that self-care is the first step in being able to care for someone else, so let’s look at some ways to help take care of yourself first! 

  • Prioritize self-care: Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with friends. 
  • Seek support: Connect with other parents in similar situations through support groups or online communities and consider seeing a therapist or counselor for individual support. 
  • Practice mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or yoga, into your daily routine to reduce stress and increase self-awareness. 
  • Take breaks: Make time for short breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just a few minutes of quiet time. 
  • Set realistic expectations: Be realistic about what you can accomplish and delegate responsibilities to other family members or caregivers when possible. 
  • Use respite services: Consider using respite services to provide temporary relief and allow for some personal time. 
  • Take vacations: Plan and take regular vacations to recharge and refresh. 

Remember, taking care of yourself is crucial for being able to provide the best care for your child with autism. Prioritizing self-care can help improve your physical and emotional well-being and increase your ability to manage autism at home. 

How Can The Oxford Center Help?

The Oxford Center is dedicated to providing the best possible services for each of our children and helping parents be as successful as possible. In our Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) program, we place a focus on not only working with your child to ensure success, but we focus on working with you too. We know that consistency is important for a child with ASD, so we want to make sure we spend time working with parents to go over what their child is learning during ABA therapy and how parents can best support that learning at home.

Jessica Dodson, our ABA Program Director, says “At The Oxford Center, we help create routines within a successful environment to not only help the child grow, but the whole family. I have so many parents that focus on comparing how their child is doing against how another child is doing, so I always remind my parents and caregivers that everyone has their own separate path and journey. Most importantly, remember that we will all make it through our paths with a little teamwork and perseverance.”

Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your child be successful at 248-486-3636.