Today when discussing the symptoms of autism I began to think about how their summer camp would structure itself. My friend works at a camp with kids with genetic disorders so I knew there had to be camps for kids with autism. Surprisingly there were no camps specifically for autism. There were many, however, for kids with learning and social skill disabilities. This included ADHD, Aspbergers, and milder cases of autism. Most of the camps advertised an improvement program in learning and skills that that these campers develop over the summer. Camp Buckskin was one that caught my eye. They boast:
Our campers have average to well above average intelligence. They also have a world of potential in many areas that has yet to be developed. They simply need extra help and support to convert their potentials into abilities.The Buckskin program effectively utilizes the summer to help youth not only stay focused, but gain knowledge and skills while improving existing abilities. These new abilities and skills help produce a smoother transition to the new school year. Perhaps more importantly, these gains also help them to become happier and more successful.
Although many of the campers are very intelligent they are unaware of how they make other people feel. This camp helps to teach children on two levels: visible achievement and through the Personal Growth program. Through traditional camp settings mixed with some academic activities these troubled children learn as well as demonstrate their new skills in daily settings. Their achievements are recognized, this is the more visible part of camp. The Personal Growth program is custom made for each child by their parents previous to entering camp. The parents select specific goals for the child to work on throughout their duration at camp. There is no scheduled events to help with these skills, as the opportunity arises the kids address their issues. Learning opportunities focus on “peer relations, interpersonal communication skills, problem solving abilities, and other similar skills.” The progress made in camp is recorded daily and given to the parents afterward. Parents appreciate this and discussion is welcomed for further progress in these areas.
These camps are essentially the same as summer camps for kids without disabilities. There are slightly different focuses at camp but it is essentially having fun, making friends, and learning. I think it’s really important for kids to have this opportunity to lead normal, independent lives. I have always regretted not being able to go to summer camp. I think that summer camps specifically geared towards kids with learning and social disabilities are great resources for kids and parents and they should take advantage of them.
I wonder if kids with severe autism are able to go to some kind of camp setting, are they even willing? Would being out of their comfort zone be beneficial or detrimental to their health? For kids who crave a schedule camp may set them back more than help them progress. I wonder about what is the best way for parents to help their children who have developmental disabilities.