Camp for kids with autism can be an enlightening experience for both parent and child. In particular, it is beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder to interact with other kids experiencing similar lifestyles. They may even improve their social skills.
Finding a Great Camp for Kids with Autism
Daily, weekend retreats and residential camps are available for children with autism. Each camp offers unique experiences for the child. While the following camps are overall good options, be sure to check how well the camp's activities and structure are set up compared to your child's needs.
- Handi Kids: At Camp Handi Kids, you can find a summer camp program through The Bridge Center. This program offers teens and children with Asperger's syndrome and high functioning autism a variety of activities. The camp is a therapeutic recreation for the kids, in an encouraging environment. The goal is to meet others, exercise, to socialize and to develop life skills. Camp Handi Kids is located in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
- Lighthouse Project: At the Lighthouse Project, children who have nonverbal learning disabilities, Asperger's syndrome, high functioning autism and attention deficit disorders will find a variety of programs to fit their needs. Summer camp is available, as are weekend retreats throughout the year. The social skills programs teach children to interact with others while other programs help with communication improvement. The groups are small allowing for good interaction with adults. Lighthouse Project is located in Campbell, California.
- Charis Hills: This Christian based, coed residential summer camp offers confidence boosting programs to kids with ADHD, LD, ED, and Asperger's Syndrome. There is also a young adult camp for teens. Charis Hills also offers a family camp retreat where the entire family can get away, bond and enjoy educational seminars. This camp is located in Sunset, Texas.
- Extreme Sports Camp: Older children with autism spectrum disorder will enjoy Extreme Sports Camp. This camp is an autism-engineered camp with year round activities. The goal of this camp is to highlight personal abilities and to enhance the health and social engagement of children with autism. Most of the programs are athletic based, designed to teach children through challenging them to reach attainable goals. Extreme Sports Camp is located in the Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado.
Choosing the Best Autism Camp
The experience of camp is one most children love. Selecting a camp the child will enjoy and benefit from can be complex, but only because of the number of camps available to children.
- Physical Needs: Select a camp that accommodates your child's special needs. Many of these camps do provide resources for children with numerous physical disabilities, including wheelchair bound children.
- Emotional Needs: Children with autism may require emotional support when away at camp. Check with the camp to find out what services are available to accommodate this need.
- Autism Based Programs: What makes the camp an autism-based program? Find out how the camp's structure offers children with autism activities and educational opportunities. You may find a range of differences from one camp to the next.
Questions to Have Answered
When selecting a camp for kids with autism, several questions should be answered by the camp counselors prior to the selection of the camp.
- Does the camp offer medical treatments your child may need?
- How are medications dispensed and managed?
- Can parents drop in to see the child if they would like to?
- Are all of the counselors and volunteers educated on working with autistic children?
- What procedures are in place for disruptions or poor behavior?
- What will your child learn and experience at camp?
- What makes this camp unique from others?
Find time to visit the camp to look at the facilities. Some ongoing camps will allow visitors to experience a day at camp. You may also want to check out the camp's ratings with the Better Business Bureau and conduct basic research online. The more information you have about the camp, the better the experience your child will have when they arrive at camp.