The summer holidays can be great fun and for many, they are a time to relax, go on adventures and (if we’re lucky!) enjoy the sunshine. But, for some families, they can also be difficult or stressful.
If you’re worried about what you’re doing for the rest of your summer holiday, you’re not alone. We’ve taken a look at the secret challenges and searched for the top tips this summer.
The #SecretChallenges of the Summer Holidays
The Disabled Children’s Partnership’s national survey found that 53% of family carers say they don’t take a family holiday as a result of providing care to their disabled child and 80% have had to give up leisure time due to their caring responsibilities.
Summer holidays can be tough for some disabled children, young people and their families. So what are the problems?
80% of parents who have a child with a learning disability struggle to access support services during the school summer holidays which can put additional pressures on families and carers.
A change in routine
Summer holidays can disrupt the routines that many families have established during the term time. This can be frustrating and overwhelming for some disabled children and young people as well as having an impact on the wider family.
58% of parents surveyed who have a child with a learning disability have concerns about the attitudes of the public when taking their child on holiday.
Problems with childcare
Limited holiday childcare places, coupled with the rising cost of childcare during this period, can create a double challenge to parents of disabled children. Una Summerson, Head of Campaigns at Contact a Family, says: “Sadly, one of the biggest holiday nightmares for families with disabled children is shortages in holiday childcare provision. This means they find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to childcare and work”.
Here, Catherine Tyrie, a parent carer, talks about the secret life of juggling holiday childcare when you have a disabled child. And why having an understanding employer is so important.
Top tips for the summer holidays
The internet is teeming with advice on how to counter those holiday challenges. We’ve gathered together our top six online reads:
- Visit Special Needs Jungle for ‘special needs summer survival’ tips with some ideas for parents and children alike.
- Contact a Family’s guide to holidays, play and leisure is packed full of useful information to help you plan to keep the kids occupied this summer holiday. Parents can get a free copy by calling the Contact a Family helpline on 0808 808 3555 or you can download the holidays guide.
- Want to chat with other families about your summer holiday experiences? Mencap’s family forum has a thread for families of disabled children to share advice and ideas.
- Family Lives gives useful advice on managing the holidays if parents have separated. They also suggest ways to keep your children entertained over the summer.
- And for those struggling with holiday childcare, read the Working Mums advice.
- Want to keep your child out and about this summer? Read Action for Children’s advice on keeping children entertained without the use of a screen.
Some holiday services you might be interested in
There is a range of support available to disabled children, young people and families. The UK Government website can help you to find the summer play schemes near you and you can also find out what support is available in your local area by visiting SENDirect.
Family Fund provides grants to families on low incomes raising disabled or seriously ill children, including for family breaks and day trips. Find out more and how to apply on their website.
Or, for some pointers to more specific holiday programmes for disabled children, please visit: