Effective Tips To Help Children With Special Needs Transition at Summer Camps
Who doesn’t like to be in their comfort zone? Being pushed out of your comfort zone at work, home or school is the reason why many people face challenges during times of transition. This is the reason that everyone, regardless of their academic, social or emotional abilities, can feel uncomfortable with changes in their regular daily life.
For a child with special needs, structure, routine and knowing expectations helps them to make sense of the world around them and the people in it. Changes in routine for children with Autism, Down syndrome, and so many other diagnoses can be a great cause of emotional stress. This lessens their ability to use the social and language skills they have worked so hard to achieve to their maximum potential. For many children changes in routine or periods of transition can cause a child to “shut-down” in an effort to control their anxiety regarding the changes at hand. For this reason we are very sensitive to helping our campers transition to their summer programs for kids with special needs at Camp Lee Mar.
If you want to send your child to a summer camp for special needs like Camp Lee Mar here are some of the things you need to consider;
- Experience with children with special needs
Look for a program that caters to your child’s needs, has exceptional facilities and a well-trained camp staff. These programs will understand exactly what your child will need to be successful. A camp that understands your child’s need for transition coping strategies will offer you and your camper as much information as possible (calendars and schedules) and opportunities to visit camp prior to your child’s arrival at their summer program. Ask the camp what transition coping strategies they use for first time campers and check out YouTube and other camp videos on social media to help familiarize your child with the summer program.
- Understanding triggers
To avoid any first-day camper feelings of anxiety and fear regarding transitions our staff take part in an extensive staff training orientation week. During these staff programs and workshops staff are trained to watch for triggers and observe carefully to lessen situations that cause stress for our campers. Staff also review their campers background information forms, school reports and parent concerns so they are fully informed regarding camper triggers and how best to help each individual camper adjust as easily as possible.
Camp is very structured. Our staff make sure our campers know and understand camp routines upon their arrival at camp. Many families have already visited camp before this point, taken a tour and received a summer calendar and their child’s individual camp schedule to review with them. Having and knowing their routine helps our campers during this initial transition period.
Our staff understand that consistency in routines is the key to help our campers feel more relaxed and understand expectations. The consistency in the camp structure helps our campers to be more flexible and open to transitions and learning new skills.
Summer camps for children with special needs that understand the above points can create a safe, secure, and supportive environment for campers with special needs. Camp Lee Mar offers a staff that is experienced, calm and patient with our campers. It is this level of understanding of our campers that creates the environment for so much social, emotional and academic growth throughout a summer at Camp Lee Mar.
Written by Lynsey Trohoske
My name is Lynsey Trohoske, I am the assistant director at Camp Lee Mar. I have three amazing children, my middle child happens to be on the autism spectrum and is a camper at Lee Mar. I joined camp as a counselor in 1998 and loved the campers and their families so much that Camp Lee Mar became my second home!