What Summer Camps Are Best For My Child With Autism?
Linda Wechter-Ashkin Ph.D NCSP BC-TMHC ADHD CCSP
Recently I asked my followers a question about the camps they recommended for children with autism, and I only got 2 replies. An ABA Specialist friend suggested Serving Autism On And Off The Tennis Court saying it had come to her highly recommended. An educator friend with a child with Autism suggested The JCC in Boynton Beach, The ARC in West Palm Beach, and the YMCA in Boca Raton. Another kind friend suggested looking into the Special Olympics as an option to get involved in. And then there were tons of people following but nothing coming. I started doing my research and I realize how complicated it is to find the right fit in the right area for the right price. So I compiled a bunch of places based on my research. I added summer camps in the area that looked like viable options. I found websites that listed best of camps in different areas like sports or art or equestrian training. And I added some organizations that might be helpful to call. But my takeaway is you will need to do some research.
With that being said there are some things to be sure to take into consideration.
1-The first question to ask yourself is what your child’s specific needs and how much individualized direction are will they require. If you are not sure talk to their teachers, counselors or service providers. Then choose a camp based on parent reviews and discussions with the director that has the available resources to meet their needs.
2-Next think about what you are looking for out of the camp. Are you looking to expand their interests or to find a camp that focuses on their current interests? Are you looking for a camp with the priority of improving their social skills and communication or are you hoping that being with peers will provide a natural atmosphere for that to happen? There is no right answer but to get the experience you are hoping for you need to know what you are looking for.
3-Think about how many hours a day, days a week, or time away you are looking for. There are many camps out of the area that you can explore through the resources I have provided if you are looking for your child to have an experience away from home.
4-Camp can get expensive so consider what is reasonable for you financially. Also check into financial assistance. Start early because campers’ assistance is often limited and there are deadlines. Be sure to ask the camps you research if they offer campers assistance, and about the criteria and timelines. National groups sometimes offer scholarships, such as Autism Speaks and the local Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. Some children are further eligible for financial assistance through their state.
5-Research is key. Talk to other parents, school counselors, your ABA therapist, and anyone else you are working with to see if they have suggestions. Call the camps you are interested and request a tour if possible but definitely interview the program director or the staff in charge of registration. Come prepared with a list of questions about the modifications they will make to meet your child’s needs and be open about what your child’s specific needs are.
West Palm Beach and Broward Camps To Check Out
https://loveservingautism.org/ Serving Autism On and Off the Tennis Court
https://www.arcbroward.com/camp-able The Arc Broward
https://www.arcpbc.org/programs/community-inclusion The Arc Palm Beach
https://jcccamps.org/camping/camp-shalom-boynton-beach/ JCC Boynton Beach
https://www.ymcaspbc.org/programs/camp-ymca/summer-camp YMCA Boca
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