Importance of Holiday Therapy Programs
School holidays are a fun time, filled with freedom and rest from the structure and effort of a day to day school routine. It’s a time we see kids take a break from their day-to-day routines and therapies and partake in activities of interest, play at home and engagement with Friends.
For some children, however the lack of routine and consistency of school term can lead to increased anxiety and confusion. For others we see high levels of boredom and hyperactivity, leading to behavioral issues and destructive behavior to themselves, siblings and the environment surrounding them.
Many therapies break for school holidays, and parents take the time to have a well earnt break from driving their kids around. With no school or therapies to attend, however, a child’s routine is thrown out the window. To add further salt to this wound, holidays are often relaxed and unplanned, with different activities occurring on a day-to-day basis. For many children with attention deficit disorder, this is also the time that parents choose to give them a break from medications, leading to an increase within hyperactive behaviors and impulsivity.
What Is The Risk of Taking a Therapy Break During Holidays?
Many Neurodivergent children – particularly those on the Autism Spectrum thrive when following a routine and have consistency within day-to-day life. While school may not always be an enjoyable task for them to complete, that child knows and understands that on weekdays, they wake up at 7 in the morning, eat breakfast and prep for the day, arrive at school at 8:30-9, complete the daily activities at school, go to their therapies in the afternoon, return home for homework, dinner then bed. For this child, that routine is the same week in week out and can become very comforting, that is until the school holidays when suddenly everything changes. They no longer have school, which means that often they will be waking up later, eating breakfast later, and sometimes not having to get changed and ready for the day. Therapies are closed, or parents have decided to give them a break, meaning that they structured activity in the afternoon is also gone. There is no stability or structure for them to fall back on, they don’t know what to expect.
Many Neurodivergent children also find it hard to make friends, particularly when they are outside of the school environment. While some may not be bothered by this, other kids may start to feel socially isolated and lonely, increasing levels of depression and poor mood.
Holidays are often a time Drs recommend giving children a break from their medications which has considerable benefits for the child such as lack of side effects, increases in growth, and to see if the medication is having a benefit on the child’s behavior. This, however, can mean that the child’s hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention can become exacerbated. During this time children will often need more direct attention as they are more likely to partake in risky and dangerous behavior.
So How Does Exercise Help with This?
Maintaining some sort of therapy throughout the holidays provides your child with some daily structure and also makes it easier for them to continue after the school holidays have finished. Maintaining therapy throughout the holidays also assists in ensuring that the skills learned during the school term remain relevant within your child’s brain. Neurodivergent children often experience problems with converting short term to long term memory – meaning that if an activity or skill isn’t repeated and practiced on a regular recurring basis, it can easily be forgotten.
Research has also shown that high intensity exercise within children with ADHD can help to decrease hyperactivity behaviors, increase concentration and decrease impulsivity, especially when performed within the morning. This means that participation within exercise therapy in the mornings of the school holidays may mean that your child will be a lot calmer, behave better and may be less likely to participate in risky behaviors.
Furthermore participation in group holiday programs can help to increase your child’s socialization, increasing their skills to be able to make and maintain friendships, while also decreasing their feelings of social isolation and loneliness. These programs are also a great place for your child to meet like-minded people, who may be experiencing similar issues to them. This can help them to feel they are not alone in this world and help them to understand that they may not be so different to other kids after all.
If you are interested in maintaining your child’s exercise therapy throughout the holiday period or increasing sessions over the break, Activate Health is open throughout all school breaks, excluding public holidays.
We also offer specific holiday programs targeted directly towards Neurodivergent children. This program focus specifically on fostering social, physical and emotional development and are open to all school age children.
If you have any questions about the above article or would like to find out more about our services please contact us on:
Phone: 07 4922 1540
Or look us up on:
Website: Activate Health Exercise Physiology | Rockhampton Yeppoon Emu Park Exercise Physiologists
5/287 Richardson Rd, Kawana
2 Braithwaite st
3/24 Hill St
Mount Morgan Hospital