My DS is in kindergarten. He is on an IEP and receives speech and occupational therapy twice a week through the schools. His speech problems are fairly mild, strangers can probably understand 80% of what he says and he's good at explaining things people don't understand. The occupational therapy is for fine motor skills and also some sensory issues. He falls out of his chair a lot. He can find it hard to sit still when he's excited, though he does remain in place. Because he likes to touch things as he walks along he can appear clumsy. This spring he is also being evaluated for ADHD because of his impulsivity which mostly manifests in interrupting.
I have signed him up for 8 weeks of day camp over summer vacation. What is the best way to tell his camp about his issues? I don't want them to be biased against him-- especially since I think his issues are probably going to be less apparent in a camp environment vs a classroom. Still, they probably should know. Help!
I'd call now, ASAP, and ask them questions about what they can do to work with DS. I'd also want to know about where they get their staff and how old they are.
DS1 has mixed expressive receptive language disorder. We've had summer child care experiences that work out and ones that don't.
1. Our Y day camp didn't work. They hired mostly older high school students and college students to work with the kids, and they were too inexperienced to deal with the differences. None of them were education majors, so they weren't necessarily that into kids, either. After DS told a counselor that he was going to cut off her head with a light saber, he was booted on their zero tolerance policy. (My response didn't help: "Did you check to see if he actually had a light saber?" ) This same day camp left a NT kid at the zoo last summer. They didn't count the kids when they got on the bus. They also lost my younger kid's lunch during the first week and fed him Lucky Charms, instead. They're hopeless.
2. The Y in the next town over has day camp and it works great for us. The town has a university and the Y hires education majors to work day camp. Most of them have had at least some classroom exposure. They have some theory and training behind them.
3. We have also used a Catholic school day care. It worked great. Their employees are all a bit older and work there full time. They're not kids. When DS mouthed off, they worked with him to both short circuit the problem and help him with his behavior. They were great.
Please don't discount teens as being "just kids" who can't work with your child. Some kids, I've found, can be more patient and understanding of a child with special needs than an adult.
I would, however, make sure your camp is equipped to work with your child and that the staff has at least some background in working with special needs children.
My son attends a camp run by the Jewish Community Center. They are known here for their work with special needs kids and gave my son (at no cost to me) an advocate who was solely responsible for him. The advocates at the camp are parents, students (ot, speech, etc) and even some teens. Their role is to ensure that the child is included in all the programming, keeping the child safe and making sure, like all his friends, that he's having a blast. He did. Our advocate is the mother of 3 who's oldest has ADHD and seizure disorder. We worked with her to help her understand our son and what his needs and challenges were and it was a great summer for everyone.
Thanks for the feedback--I will reach out to the camp directors. We have a trial run during our "february vacation week (2/22-25). At that time he will be attending a camp run by the same group as 6 of the 8 summer weeks. I emailed the director today about Feb. camp and she said to talk to her the first day. I think I will be sure to bring something in writing they can refer to.
The other 2 weeks in the summer are at a college with a pretty well-regarded education program--of course I'll reach out to them too.
If the february camp doesn't go so well I will probably look into other options for those 6 weeks in the summer.
I totally agree. Through circumstances beyond my control, I ended up meeting up with a "teen" who ended up caring for my children while my youngest was in the hospital. She actually worked out great, and I am now using her as my only child care provider. She has been great with my kids, and one of them is special needs....