Summer Camps for Kids with Autism: Why You Should Send Your Child
Summer camps exist for both neurotypical and special needs campers across the U.S. The fact that many communities have taken notice of the fact that kids with autism need a very different sort of program speaks to the fact that these communities are doing their part to be inclusive of every child, regardless of where he or she falls on the spectrum. If you are thinking about sending your child to a summer camp for autistic kids, there are several reasons why you absolutely should.
REASON #1: The camps are highly organized and very structured. Kids with autism, as you know, love structure. It helps them feel safe and less anxious or nervous knowing the exact itinerary each and every day. There is nothing that will cause your child to run willy-nilly and get injured or cause injury to someone else.
REASON #2: Socialization. Seriously, you have to get the kids out to socialize during the summer, but you do not have to let it all fall on you. There will be other kids at autism camp that will have similar interests and skill levels as your own child, and he or she will absolutely love finding somebody else to talk to about Minecraft or Shopkins, ad nauseum.
REASON #3: It’s fun. The groups are always small, do tons of arts and crafts, play outdoors, explore new things (like yoga!), and go on a couple of field trips to places kids with autism would love to go. The staff tire the kids out for you by keeping them so busy all day, and the kids are happy and content when you pick them up (usually—there’s always one in the bunch that might be having a meltdown about going home, but it won’t happen every day).
REASON #4: It’s very, very safe. There are at least two camp “counselors” to each child, unless your child is very low functioning and needs assistance sitting up, standing, etc., then there are three counselors to a child. Everyone makes sure the kids are participating or getting a needed break and all the counselors go through a rigorous screening process before they are hired. Most of them are actually college students who plan to teach special ed!
REASON #5: Because you absolutely deserve a break. Hey, don’t feel guilty in the least if you cop to this reason—all parents of special needs kids need a break, and we don’t always get one. Autism camp during the summer gives you a week long break you can feel good about because you know your child is safe, having fun, and is in very good hands.