Summertime can be tough for parents, and it can be especially challenging for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It can be a full-time job filling summer days with fun and excitement along with meaningful activities! This can be especially difficult for parents who work full-time and have a limited amount of time off during the summer months.
Summer camp is an option used by many parents to provide their children with meaningful summer activities, through day camps in local communities as well as overnight camps. There are a range of camp programs available that support children and youth with ASD.
Why should I register my child for summer camp?
Going to camp is a wonderful experience that many children look forward to each year. For individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, camp is no less of a wonderful experience. When camps are well-designed, they provide opportunities for individuals to interact with others who have similar interests. They create an accepting and positive environment for everyone. Camp also encourages individuals to take initiative and build relationships; creating bonds that often last beyond the camp session itself.
What is the right summer camp option for my child?
There are a range of summer camp options available for families. When exploring camp options for your child or youth with ASD, here are three things to consider when picking the best option for your child and family:
- Special needs only camps vs. Integration camps. Think about what would best suit your child. Special needs camps are designed specifically to support children with exceptional needs. If your child needs a supportive environment for the moment, perhaps you can try out integration camps over a few summers.
- Day camps vs. overnight camp. Depending on your child’s needs, it may take some time to build up to overnight camps. There are some camps that offer a way to try overnight settings for just a weekend or a few days!
- Let your child rest and have a break. Our kids need challenges, and we need to plan for the future, but every child deserves some downtime to relax. You should consider whether a summer camp is the best option for your child.
How can I find summer camps?
It’s important to do your own research to pick the camp that is best suited for your family and child’s individual needs. If you register with respiteservices.com, you can view the different types of support programs available, including summer camp options.
The Kinark Outdoor Centre (KOC) is a summer camp option that offers a variety of adapted traditional camp experiences and enhanced respite opportunities for children, teens and young adults with ASD and their families. Registration is open for their summer 2022 Autism Family Camp and Autism Family Respite programs. You can learn more about these programs on their website.
If you are looking for additional support when choosing the right camp option for your child, our Service Navigation team can help you. You can request a free consultation on our website here. You can also check out your local community’s website for their day camp options.
I’ve registered my child for camp! How can I prepare my child and the camp staff?
After you have booked a camp for your child, you may want to prepare a “getting-to-know-my-child” package for the camp team. You can make this package by:
- Creating a profile of your child and identifying their likes and dislikes, communication style and other important information.
- Identifying potentially difficult situations and how to handle them with simple and direct instructions.
It’s important to make yourself available and encourage open communication with the camp team to best support your child. If appropriate, you can ask for reports on your child’s day at camp to know what activities they took part in.
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