It is never too early to begin researching summer programs for your child with special needs. Since all children are different, summer program experiences can vary. And, choosing a summer program for your child with special needs can seem overwhelming. Summer program options are as plentiful and unique as your child’s interests and abilities. So, how is a parent to decide?
Here are a few tips from Fitness for Health, a therapeutic, exercise facility for children and adults with special needs in the Washington, DC, Region, to consider as you hunt for the perfect program for your child with special needs:
- Plan a pre-camp visit. Tour the summer program venue, meet the staff and allow your child to ask questions that are important to him/her. If your child feels comfortable in the surroundings, he/she will be excited to try new experiences and will look forward to attending camp.
- During the visit, be very open and transparent about your child’s special needs. It’s the best way to ensure a good program fit for your child.
- Ask about the camp’s philosophy. Is it one you’re comfortable with as a parent? Is it a good match for your child’s temperament?
- Inquire about the counselor-to-camper ratio. The leader-to-child ratio will vary, depending on the type of program and the age of the children. Mainstream camps usually have one counselor for every 6-10 campers; the ratio at special-needs camps is often closer to 1:3. The lower the ratio, the more opportunities counselors have to work with kids on an individual basis.
- Ask about the qualifications of the staff. Do the counselors have a background in the program’s area of focus? Do the staff members hold educational degrees and/or work in that field? Have they taught children previously?
The right summer program can help a child become more socially adept, improve self-esteem and often interested in new activities. So, selecting a camp for your child is important. Include your child in the process! Ask what summer activities are important to him/her and invite your child to attend camp visits with you. This way, your child can ask program personnel questions, meet the staff before the first day of the program and have the opportunity to meet other new campers during Open Houses.
Happy summer program hunting!
Fitness for Health and the Center for Communication and Learning are once again offering summer programs in August for children (ages 4-10) and teens (ages 11-16) with social communication challenges.
- B Social Therapeutic Summer Program – This program for ages 4-10 will integrate Social Thinking® and movement in collaboration with Sue Abrams, M.A., CCC-SLP, a Speech/Language Pathologist. Concepts will be introduced in a fun and motivating way encouraging participants to explore and improve their social thinking skills and motor development.
- B Social Team Building for Adolescents with Social Challenges – This program is specifically geared for students ages 11-16 with ADD/ADHD, Asperger’s, Social Communication Disorder and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Our B Social Team Building Program focuses on developing your adolescent’s social competency. Social Thinking® is more than just about being social. The skills and strategies we teach will impact students’ performance at school, in the community and throughout their lives.
Reimbursement of costs for the program may be available for insurance coverage and/or flexible health spending accounts. Kaiser Permanente members with prior authorization have a possibility for large savings. Attend our Summer Programs Open House on Sunday, January 28, from 5pm – 6pm to learn about our social skills programs, tour our gym and give your kids the opportunity to meet – and play – with our staff members. RSVP to [email protected].