Autism Watch: 2007

Summer Camp, Summer Camp, Sum-sum-sum…

Posted on: July 19, 2009

“Summer camp SUCKS!”

We tried. He really tried, too…at least I think he did.

It was a regular summercamp, one without special needs teachers or programming. A) Special needs camps are costly. B) Special needs camps aren’t local. C) Special needs camps don’t have enough slots. It was 20 kids BB’s age, with activities that included crafts, sports, speakers, and games.

Day 1: We pick him up and he was moping out the door. This didn’t go right, that didn’t go right. He got ‘put out’ for this game, ‘put out’ for that game, and lost five minutes of swimming. Finally, after we let him vent, we learned he’d used a teacher’s squirt gun on another child, and was repeatedly too strong when playing games. (And the squirt guns? They were allowed, a planned activity, but the kids were supposed to use small guns and he used a big gun he found ‘just laying around.’) He didn’t want to return, but we made a deal: go all this week, and you don’t have to go any further.

Day 2: More of day 1, just maybe worse, despite me having spoken with the lead teacher that they might want to make a few minor accommodations. Still didn’t want to return, but was glad he wasn’t having to go next week. (And we’d already planned on only one week, we didn’t have unrealistic expectations.)

Day 3: More of day 1 and day 2, but he did run in that evening with a smile on his face as he showed me the flashcards the local police department gave them when they brought all their canine dogs for the kids to learn about and pet. BB loved the dogs. Then, he showed me his pom-pom animal made during craft. Unsurprisingly, other kids were making dogs, cats and monkeys, and mine made a zombie.

Day 4: Never happened. Days 1, 2 and 3 were cumulatively making his behaviors worse each night, and Wednesday night (aka Day 3) was unbearable. Bad tantrums with things thrown around and knocked off as he walked by. Screaming, yelling, the whole thing.

All in all, he says he’s not anti-camp. He says likes the idea of camp, just not this camp. Part of it was caused by his inability to get along in that type of social environment, but it was worsened because a little boy from school attended camp, and was the same whining tattler he was all year long. While they didn’t seem to make many accommodations for my little guy, even with the special needs I mentioned (I never mentioned the “A” word), they didn’t seem to really do much to stop this aforementioned little guy from his behavior; my son would get a time out, and this boy is rewarded by the kid(s) he whines about getting the time out. What does that teach the little boy? No wonder he’s still whining and tattling so much. For him, it works.

After another mother of a tantrum this evening (we just came home from three days at an RV park with friends), he is quietly (well, sort of) sitting at our table eating a Klondike bar. He ate a good meal of his favorite chicken/ham/cheese nuggets from Fresh & Easy (no additives, preservatives, or extra ingredients) and seems to be calmer. Let’s hope it stays that way, tomorrow’s going to be a busy Monday, and I have no car. (Maintenance time.) I think big brother’s planning on taking him out for a little while, perfect timing.

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