When summer rolls around, many kids go off to camp for several weeks to learn outdoors skills, how to be social, and how to be more independent. For children on the autism spectrum, however, going away from home for a period of time can be stressful for both the child and the parent. There are so many things to think about when looking for the right camp that it can be overwhelming, and that’s only part of the problem; there’s also figuring out how to cope with not being there with your child for days at a time.
Fortunately, there are many ways to ensure that your child finds a camp that fits all his needs; the key is to do some research and come prepared with the right questions to ask. Here are some of the best ways to find the perfect summer camp for your child on the autism spectrum.
Think about what you want
It’s imperative to think about your child’s needs and what the best summer camp for them will entail. For instance, does your child have issues with being social? Maybe the best camp for him will involve activities that allow him to spend time with other kids and learn how to interact with them. Sit down with your child and make a list of all the things both of you want to get out of the camp, then write down any questions you have.
Do some research
Look online and ask other parents for recommendations for summer camps. It’s important to do some research on different facilities and ask for tours before you make a final decision. Come prepared with a list of your questions so you can ask the counselors and other staff members about how things are run, specifically for children on the autism spectrum.
There are many different types of camps, as well, so it’s important to figure out the best fit for your family. If your child isn’t ready to spend a night away from home yet, consider a day camp that will allow him to benefit from all the things a traditional camp has to offer in a shorter time frame.
Check the resources
Obviously you’ll need to make sure that any facility your child spends time at has the correct resources, whether they be medical, mental, or emotional, to help your camper get the most out of his time there. Find out whether they will implement the behavior plan that you have worked out for your child and if they will have the same staff members working with your child each day.
Check out funding
Many camps offer help with financing, and some rely on funding from outside sources to run, so if you find a camp you like, ask them about any scholarships or special funding that your child might qualify for or how you can help the camp stick around for a long time to come.
Prepare your child
It’s important to prepare your child as much as possible for camp. This can be done in several ways, but you know your child better than anyone and can find the best ways to help him get ready in ways that make sense to him. It might help to slowly introduce him to social scenes–such as story hour at the library–to allow him to get used to it.
Finding the right camp for your child can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared, so get organized and do your research to help your little camper have the best summer ever.
By Jeff Watson