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Summer Camp Fosters Flexibility and Independence for Children with Autism

Parents ease the path for us. They explain things, make it easier, and even do things for us. But as growing individuals, kids also need to experience life on their own, to be able to make mistakes and have to rely on new sources of support to become more independent and aware of their own power.

 

Time at a summer camp is a unique opportunity for campers to step out of their usual routines and paradigm and relearn who they are in a new context. At camp, kids take their cues from peers and adult role models to learn vital lessons of increased self-sufficiency, responsibility, and an appreciation for others. They acquire key building blocks and skill sets that they may never otherwise experience in the familiar environments of home and school.

 

For kids with high-functioning autism and other social communication needs, an intentionally designed, thoughtful camp environment can be a game changer. At Camp Alsing, social and emotional growth, while having a blast, is the focus. Our program of social communication skills and supports, woven through rich days of fun camp activities, provides campers stepping stones toward greater awareness of their surroundings and of themselves.

 

We seek to increase their ability to scan the environment, take in social information, and consider how their actions will impact others. At camp, before setting off for our canoe outing to the nearby island we pause, put on our “future glasses,” picture what it will be like there, make a plan for what we will need, and consider the many possibilities for how things might change. In this way, we help campers build awareness, flexibility and self-reliance.

 

Everyone should have a place where they can grow away from their usual routines and be their best selves. A place where learning, friendship and support is at a premium. For many campers, Camp Alsing is that special place.