It is that time of the year when all schools are closed for the summer and you are left with the unenviable task of conjuring up novel ideas of keeping your children occupied with fun-filled activities that are entertaining and educational as well. Summer holidays can be exciting for parents of typical kids but for parents of children with autism, it is fraught with challenges and unending spell of upsets and meltdowns.
One of the best ways to combat this situation is to find a suitable 'summer camp' that will suit your child's specific needs and leave you to bask in stress free days of summer. In order to narrow your search to find a camp that is supportive, accommodating and fun-filled, you will have to follow these tips;
Begin your research well in advance of the summer holidays. Summer camps are pricey. So you will need time to browse the internet until you find one of your choice after comparing prices, quality of activities, faculty etc. Starting as early as September would be a wise move.
Extended School Year (ESY) is a program allowing your ASD child to avail of services in the summer vacations. A child's regressive behavior in social, behavioral and academic fields would make him eligible for ESY, which qualifies him for free summer program. As the ESY is different in each state and school as well, you will have to find the nature of ESY offered in the camp you choose.
Spread the word around and ask your friends, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues and in your child's school, for information on summer camps. Other parents of autistic children are bound to know of camps and give you references. Alternatively, view the website of ASA (Autism Society of America) for details or post a question to them for specific information.
Scour magazines, newspapers, bulletins, newsletters and camp directories in order to get listings of summer camps for children with autism.
Be a member of 'autism support groups' - There are online autism support groups as well as support groups formed by parents of autistic children going to the same school. You can get useful tips and references from them, about camps around your area or elsewhere.
Find summer camps that allow family involvement and participation in order to get knowledge about different activities that you could later on incorporate in your schedule, when spending time with your child.
YMCA and Variety Club summer camps have schemes with financial subsidies to help families requiring monetary aid. They are also committed about including autistic children in all activities and work hard to fulfill their mission. Make sure the camp you choose follows this policy, when contacting the camp organizers.