It’s summertime, which is the perfect time to think about camp options for your autistic child. But it’s important to remember that not all summer camps offer the best support or camp activities for autistic children.
Finding the right camp can be crucial for the well-being of autistic children. Many autistic children struggle with social interaction and may feel isolated or misunderstood in their day-to-day lives. Attending a camp that is designed specifically for autistic children can provide them with the opportunity to socialize with peers who have similar experiences and interests, and to develop important social skills in a supportive environment.
Some autistic children have sensory sensitivities that can make certain environments overwhelming or distressing. A camp that is designed to be sensory-friendly can provide a safe and comfortable space for autistic children to explore and engage with the world around them without feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
Attending a day camp or summer camp that is tailored for autistic children can provide them with access to specialized therapies or support services that may not be available in their day-to-day lives. This can be especially important for children who struggle with behavioral or emotional challenges, as they may benefit from professional support in a structured and supportive environment.
A great camp for autistic children can simply be a fun and enriching experience that helps children build confidence, independence, and self-esteem. By providing opportunities for new experiences and social interaction, the best camps for autistic children would help to develop skills and strengths that they can carry with them throughout their lives.
What to Look for in a Great Camp for Autistic Children
A camp that is suitable for autistic children should provide a number of features that are designed to meet their unique needs and support their well-being. Whether you are considering a sleep-away summer camp or a day camp environment, here are some key features to consider:
Many autistic children have sensory sensitivities that can make certain environments overwhelming or distressing. A great camp for autistic children should provide accommodations that are designed to be sensory-friendly, such as quiet spaces, low lighting, and specialized equipment.
It’s important for the staff at a camp for autistic children to have training and experience working with autistic children. This includes knowledge of how to communicate effectively with autistic children, as well as how to manage any behavioral challenges that may arise.
Autistic children often thrive on routine and predictability. A great camp for autistic children should provide a structured routine with clear expectations and consistent schedules.
Access to therapy and support
Some autistic children may benefit from therapy or support services while at camp. A great camp for autistic children should provide access to these services, whether through on-site professionals or partnerships with local providers.
Autistic children may struggle with social skills, so a great camp for autistic children should provide opportunities for social interaction with peers in a safe and supportive environment.
Of course, a great camp for autistic children should also provide fun and engaging activities that appeal to the interests of the campers. These may include outdoor activities, arts and crafts, or games and sports.
How To Pick The Right Camp For Your Autistic Child
Our staff has compiled a list of questions that you should ask when considering any summer camp for autistic children:
- What credentials and qualifications do the rest of your staff have?
- What licensure does your camp have? Does your staff have ABA therapy training?
- Do you provide speech therapy or art therapy?
- What structures and activities are put in place to help integrate campers?
- What does your camp’s daily schedule of activities include?
- How does your staff communicate with each family to provide progress, updates, tips for home, and respond to questions?
- What are your medical and emergency protocols?
- If an inclusive program – what is your camp’s philosophy regarding integrating children with special needs into the general population of campers?
- If the camp is specialized – what is your philosophy on encouraging socialization and skill-building? How do your activities and staff support these goals?
- Do you offer scholarships, grants, or other financial assistance?
There are a number of well-curated lists of summer camps for children with specially designed programs for autism. We also recommend that you talk with your child’s care team for suggestions and recommendations.
Benefits of Attending a Camp for Autistic Children
There are many great benefits of summer camps and day camp activities for autistic children. As we’ve discussed in our blog before:
Research suggests children with autism thrive in intensive, year-round ABA therapy. Maintaining consistency helps prevent regression in the skills and progress your child has been making. Summer camps offer a setting for all children with autism to continue ABA therapy practices outside the clinic or classroom. Camps allow exposure to sports, creative activities, animals, and nature.
Many autistic children thoroughly enjoy the camp experience, especially when that experience is specifically designed to accommodate their particular needs.
Attending a camp for autistic children can provide a range of benefits for children with autism and their families. These outcomes may include opportunities to engage in:
- Therapeutic benefits
- Sports/ exercise
- Art and craft therapy
Talk with your child’s care team to learn more about the potential benefits of camp for your autistic child.