Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Camp counseling

Yahoo's health news features a KidsHealth item today on Finding a Camp for Your Child With Special Needs, and while it would have been useful if they'd actually included a listing, it's still nice to see the needs of special campers going so far as to be a health headline. My kids went to a very nice, very expensive special-needs day camp for a number of years, but we've switched to mainstream resources in our community with generally acceptable results. The special-needs camp turned out to be more restrictive than my daughter needed, and not sufficiently restrictive for my son. When I saw that they'd put my extremely sensory seeking boy in the same group as an extremely sensory defensive lad, I knew our Julys and Augusts there were numbered. It's no fun when special needs collide.

I'd always wondered whether putting him in a local summer program and paying for a staff member to be hired to monitor him one-on-one wouldn't be cheaper and just as successful. So last year we tried it, and it went okay. This year we're trying it again. The kids seem to like or at least tolerate him, and since the activities are pretty non-demanding he doesn't act out to the degree that he would in a mainstream class at school (which I don't think will ever be a good idea, no matter how many people they want to pay to monitor him). Next year he may be too old for this particular program, and we'll have to go searching again. But it's nice while it lasts.

Last year we put my daughter in "Camp Grandma" -- feeling she was old enough to make it through the day without a structured program, and Grannie could use some company. Toward the end of their time together, I found out that the entertainment at "Camp Grandma" included watching Maury Povich and soap operas, and so this year I've got her all camped up. There's a city-run day program at a local school, from which she'll be taking breaks to go to hour-a-day music camp at the middle school she'll be attending in the fall and a 90-minute-a-day math program. This on top of tutoring twice a week, speech therapy once a week, and what ever other things I can find to enrich her with. She'd say torture her with, since it interferes with her plan to play video games until her eyeballs come unglued. But eh, too bad, kid. Wait 'til September.

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