Summer camp can be an exciting and rewarding experience for any child, but for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) it can be even more impactful in terms of building a positive self-image and increasing social skills and interactions. It can also be overwhelming and challenging for them without the proper preparation. As a parent, you want to ensure that your child is as ready for new experiences as possible. Here are 10 ways to help your child with ASD prepare for summer camp:
- Start preparing early. Talk to your child about the upcoming camp session and what they can expect. Explain what the days will be like, and share what they can look forward to doing.
- Visit the camp beforehand. Take your child on a tour of the camp to familiarize them with the environment. If your child is coming to summer camp at Camp Southern Ground, we are hosting a Tie Dye Event on April 29 that is open to the public! Not only will you enjoy an afternoon of music, food, and tie dye fun, you will also be able to meet the Summer Camp team and take a tour of our buildings and grounds.
- Communicate with the camp staff in the lead up to your child’s session at camp. Inform the camp staff about your child’s needs, interests, and any accommodations that they may require.
- Create a social story. Develop a social story with your child to help them understand the camp routine and expectations.
- Practice social skills. Encourage your child to practice social skills, such as introducing themselves, initiating conversations, and asking for help with challenging tasks or environments before arriving at camp.
- Develop coping strategies. Help your child develop coping strategies for anxious moments and situations of sensory overload.
- Create a routine: Establish a routine for your child before camp to help them feel more comfortable with the structure of the day.
- Pack familiar items. Pack familiar items, such as a favorite toy or blanket, to help your child feel more at home at camp. Share with their counselors and others when and how your child likes to engage with those home items.
- Stay connected. Stay connected with camp staff through emails or phone calls if there are specific concerns. Know that the camp leadership team will reach out to connect if any concerns arise. We view our relationship as that of the “partner” with our camper families and we do our best to build a good bridge of communication.
- Celebrate success. Celebrate your child’s successes and accomplishments in the lead up to camp and make sure you share with them that camp has a rich culture of positive reinforcement. At Camp Southern Ground it as our founder Zac Brown says, “Our mission at Camp Southern Ground is to help children of all abilities realize their full potential.”
With these tips, you can help your child with ASD have a positive and successful experience at summer camp at Camp Southern Ground.
Cam Southern Ground