Children leaving the home for an overnight stay can be a stressful event for both parents and child, and especially difficult for children with special needs. We help our children get through each day by creating an atmosphere that is especially suited to them and their needs, so a new environment with entirely new people requires extra preparation.
Sleepaway camp is a milestone that most children look forward to and most parents want their children to experience. If you think your child with special needs is ready for this exciting adventure, help them, and you, prepare for the experience. Talk about all the fun they will have and all the new friends they will meet.
Prepare your child with special needs for sleepaway camp with these ideas and tips in mind.
Attend a Pre-Camp Event
Most camps host pre-camp events where campers and their families can visit for a day to see the campgrounds, get a taste of the activities they will be participating in and get to know their camp counselors. These are especially important for children with special needs to attend because it will reduce any anxiety they might be experiencing and increase their comfort with where they will be spending several days.
Choose a Familiar Camp Program
Most camps offer specialized camps that are organized around specific activities and interests. Choose an activity that your child is already familiar with in order to help them build upon that interest. Doing this ensure that they will enjoy their time at camp surrounded by a familiar activity, but also learn something new with new friends.
Organizing Comfort Items
Experiences outside of the home are always difficult to plan for, especially when they are for prolonged periods of time. It is important to your child that he or she has those things that comfort them nearby, so work with them to pick and choose what they will take with them. It is impossible for everything to come with, but in the leadup time to camp, work with them to choose which items they will be most comfortable with.
Prepare Children for Homesickness
Plenty of children become homesick while away at camp, but they eventually get over it. Children with special needs may have a hard time getting over their homesickness so work with them to come up with a few ideas of what they can do when they are feeling homesick. Letter writing, short phone calls home, special photos to pull out when the feelings of homesickness become overwhelming are all great ideas.
Inform Camp Counselors
Just as you would prepare any other child care provider, prepare camp counselors with those things that work for your child or might be triggers for them to avoid. Prepare this information in an easy to access way for counselors, like a notebook or binder, to look to when they meet your child or are trying to help them cope and work through difficult situations.
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(Note: This is part of series of posts, entitled Getting Your Child With Special Needs Summer Ready)
As a Special Needs Mom & Lifestyle Blogger, I am passionate about spreading awareness and acceptance for children with special needs, and to give others a glimpse into our life as a typical family with a little something special. I love to talk about fashion, travel, children activities, healthy lifestyles and more!