Relationship Rescue: Sleep Away Camp: Is your child ready?
Sleep Away Camp: Is your child ready?
Question: When is a child with special needs ready for sleep away camp?
Advice: I don’t think that they are ever ready if it’s up to them. We need to make them ready for our sake as well as for theirs. We began the “steady build-up” , as I called it, by working on the children during the school year with rewards and pointing out that they wouldn’t have to go to bed at 8pm every night, but, at 9 or 10 pm when they were at camp. Of course, we contacted the camp to see what they had planned on a daily basis. We began the work at age 13. At first, they were frightened because it’s a change of scheduling but they began to see that it could be a fun experience for the both of them. We made the decision that we (the parents) needed it as much as they did. So, that being said we started out very slowly. First, we screened all the community camps in the area. The Jewish Community Center seemed to have very comprehensive programs and being Jewish was not a requirement! So we made tiny, baby steps. Mike is much lower functioning than Samantha is. He is developmentally at a five year old level. So, we began with one week of sleep away camp for the first summer. The next year we did two weeks, and the third year we sent them for a month. Now, they go for the entire summer.
Another suggestion for parents to consider is the AHRC. They have adult and children sleep away camps.
Robin Newman LCSW PC
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2013 Magazine