Finding the right camps or other summer programs for children with special needs can be tricky!
Families often find that preparing children in advance for camps can be helpful, especially when a child has unique needs. Here are some ideas:
- Engage children in making the decision about which camps or programs they want. That sense of ownership and control may be important for some kids.
- Once a specific program is selected, rehease transitions to and from the program and if possible, tour the facilities. This may ease anxieties and allow parents and caregivers to note what the child is most and least comfortable with.
- Focus on concrete details, not abstract concepts like homesickness or potential relationships.
- Contact camp or program staff in advance with any critical information about your child that will be helpful to his or her success. Give examples of incentives and strategies that work well for your child. Deliver medications and other security or sensory items in advance to reduce first day chaos.
- Pump up the excitement! Prior to camp, share enthusiasm for the new opportunities. Shop for new supplies or equipment. If possible, connect with another camp peer in advance.
- Focus on concrete details in conversations leading up to and during summer camp.
If you are still looking for the right camp, check out these guides and listings from around the region:
- Vendor list from Loudoun County Public Schools Summer Activities Resource Fair
- Arlington County Therapeutic Recreation Summer Camps
- Fairfax County Therapeutic Recreation Summer Camps
- Request a list of special needs summer camps for 2018 from the Fairfax County public schools parent resource center HERE.
- DullesMoms offers a special needs activities calendar.
Filling the long summer days ahead may require a little forethought. ChildMind offers some great practical strategies for setting your family up for a successful summer HERE.
Most important, create opportunities to connect and enjoy your family time. And remember we at Formed Families Forward are here year round, so feel free to reach out if we can help with resources or other support!