What I learned about Summer Camps and Autism

Woohoo, the first day of spring has SPRUNG… well we think anyhow. There is still snow on the ground, but it is slowly starting to melt and the weather isn’t forcing us to hibernate.

Our family is counting the days until summer, well except our daughter who would live on the hills skiing everyday if we would let her. My son on the other hand feels that snow is white acid that should never touch his body.

I remember when my son was younger, that horrible feeling of trying to find activities in the winter just to get him outside for that golden fresh air. His response was always, “I’m not a winter person”, well I agree with him as well, but that doesn’t get him outside.

We tried snow shoeing, walks, sledding, you name it and it came with the same reaction… why are you trying to kill me, winter hates me…

So as a mom with a son that does not worship all the fun and amazing activities of winter, because in his eyes that doesn’t exist, I can tell when spring is coming.

How you may ask?

Well, not from the mounds of hair falling off of my dog, cat or my friends horses, or because I am spitting it out of my mouth as it flies through the air, but because my son is willing to go outside, finally, for what he is now calling, “Non life threatening, burning, freezing fresh air”. Ummm Yeah…

God forbid the weather in Canada all of the sudden call for flurries… it’s like ground hog day and he runs back into his hole called his room.

When he was young, and the “safety of summer” was around the corner (Ty’s words, not mine), we would start looking into some really cool summer camps and day activities for him.

I remember the first camp we put him into, oh my… We dropped him off and got a phone call an hour later. They didn’t have any supports in place and he out right refused to take part in any of the games and was pretty upset.

All I could think of in my head was him say, “where is the rocket ships, wave pools and electronics!”

So we tried other camps and he either got bullied, hit, treated horribly and we had to pull him out. It was extremely frustrating and heart breaking. So we knew we had to do better research and focus on camps that were geared towards him.

When he was little, which was over 18 years ago, it was a bit harder to find great camps for him, but now… there are so many great choices! I am sure there were many of them, but when you don’t know where to look, it feels helpless.

The thoughts of leaving him all day, let alone over night (after his experiences) for a week or more was terrifying to me. But you know what, after lots and I mean lots of searching and checking places out, we found so many great camps in Ontario, and there are many great camps all over the world, but our goal was Ontario, close to where we lived.

I still recommend checking them out and finding out what they have for supports and activities because every child is different and each of them need their own kind of supports. Ask around, call them, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. My son loved water, science and horses at the time, so we looked into camps with those activities.

Once he began long distance running and white water rafting, we then put him in adventure camps! I also recommend checking out other camps not on the list below to see if they are able to modify your child’s camping experience.

Ty went into a rafting camp, a couple of times with his sister at Wilderness Tours in the Ottawa Valley and it is geared towards all kids, and they really promote NO BULLYING and accepting each other as they are and having a TON of fun. The camp councilors and guides were amazing at keeping an eye out for him and keeping us in the loop. He had such a blast and made so many new friends.

There is also, lots of great funding for kids with Autism 17 and under and even for adults 18 and over that you can used towards hiring a support person that can help him while he or she is at Day camps etc. You can read more about it at Funding Programs for Autism Therapy.

Check out Special Needs Road Map for a camp that is close to where you live or Our Kids to find camps that specialize in programs for your Autistic kids in a variety of areas in Ontario and Quebec.

Summer is a time for making new adventures and meeting new friends or as Ty would say, “air that doesn’t burn your lungs and freeze you in a blink of an eye, as old man winter does”.

You got this, Keep going, keep smiling, the ground may shake, but you can always get back up ~ Brenda


“Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.” ~ John Mayer



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