"I am interested in summer camps or programs for teenagers with Asperger’s. Can you tell me where I can find out about them and what things I should consider before sending my son there? (He’s 15.)"
Summer camps for children with Asperger’s Syndrome and/or other developmental disorders have been designed to provide enjoyable, educational experiences. You will want to consider many of the benefits that the camps offer. The camps provide help, safety, and education for children who also benefit from therapeutic recreation. At a summer camp, your child can build feelings of competency, success, confidence, and self-esteem. An ideal camp will have both indoor and outdoor activities for children, ideally in small groups.
Most camps now employ behavioral specialists to supervise and counsel the children about any issues that might arise during their tenure at the camp. They help with teaching children life skills in an environment that reduces stress and encourages learning and self sufficiency. Their goal is to offer a learning experience while maintaining health and safety standards. These individuals are knowledgeable in adaptive therapeutic programs, and they assist the children with relational or motor activities. Noted courses include Adaptive Physical Education, Art Therapy, Group Therapy, Movement and Dance, and Literacy Development.
Academics are an important part of many camps. Children who have individual educational plans (IEPs) can work through the assignments and goals while enjoying themselves at the camp. The child can follow a curriculum that has been designed in conjunction with his teachers and parents. In a sense, the camp can act as a ‘summer school’ for the children, and they can get a head start studying subjects that they will focus on during the academic year. The child with Asperger’s will acquire new skills and advance in cognitive abilities.
If your son has never experienced an extended vacation or camp experience, he will have many questions. He will want to know how long he will be gone, what will be expected of him, whom he will be meeting, how he will be expected to behave, and when he will be returning home.
When he is at camp, he might want to stay in contact with you. He can be given a cell phone to take with him, and most camps now have computers with internet access available to the children. He will want to know what days and times he can contact you and how long, if applicable, he can speak with you. Maintaining contact with you during his stay at camp will help minimize feelings of homesickness and dependency on you. This experience will be a significant step toward maturity and self sufficiency that all children must take.
CLICK HERE for a list of camps in the U.S.