Searching for a summer camp for your neurodiverse learner takes a lot of time, research and patience. Signing up for typical summer camps where there may not be the supports your child needs can be a recipe for disaster. To avoid frustrations and tears (sometimes from parents moreso than the kids!) there are important factors to consider to make sure a camp is a good fit.
Here are some key aspects to look for when choosing a camp for your neurodiverse learner:
- If the camp is not specifically designed for neurodiverse learners, ask if they have had kids with different abilities. How do they accommodate ADD/ADHD? Are they familiar with dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism– whatever your child’s needs are? Their reaction to your questions will tell a lot about their attitude towards inclusivity.
- Look for camps that have experience and expertise in accommodating a variety of neurodivergent needs and already have a plan in place. How have they accommodated kids in the past? What ideas do they have for the current summer?
- Ask what type of training the camp staff has in working with neurodiverse children. If it is a general camp, chances are their staff is not specially trained but some of their senior staff members may be and can transfer that knowledge to whoever is working with your camper.
- If the camp is specific to your child’s needs, ask what training the staff has completed. Are they special educators? Do they have experience with executive dysfunction?
- Inquire about the staff-to-camper ratio. Are their opportunities for your camper to be in an environment with a lower ratio? If needed, can 1:1 support be provided?
- Camps that openly offer neurodiverse programming will most likely be your best option. These camps often cost more but are worth the price for your peace of mind.
- Choose a camp that offers activities and programs that can be adapted to accommodate different abilities and preferences.
- Look for a camp that provides a range of options, allowing children to choose activities that match their interests and strengths.
Communication and Social Skills Support:
- Does the camp provide support for developing communication and social skills? How do they help with interaction among the campers? Summer camp provides a great opportunity to work on social skills in a low pressure environment.
- If the camp is not specifically geared towards neurodiverse learners, ask about inclusion programs or ways campers can buddy up to increase positive interactions.
- Ensure that the camp has safety measures in place to address any specific needs or challenges. How do they handle meltdowns? Are they equipped to handle children who elope if your child is prone to doing so? Being honest about your child’s behaviors is the best way to ensure they have the measures to handle them.
- Check if there are medical professionals or trained staff available to handle potential health-related concerns.
- Look for a camp with a flexible schedule. One that allows for breaks or adjustments based on individual needs.
- Camps that understand and accommodate sensory sensitivities are a must. Will they take into consideration your child’s need for a break or a quiet place to decompress?
Communication with Parents:
- Choose a camp that maintains open and transparent communication with parents or guardians.
- Inquire about how the camp keeps parents informed about their child’s progress and experiences.
Positive Reviews and Recommendations:
- Read reviews from other parents or guardians, especially those with neurodiverse children who have attended the camp.
- Seek recommendations from support groups or organizations focused on neurodiversity.
Access to Support Services:
Does the camp have access to support services such as speech therapists, occupational therapists or behavioral specialists, if needed.
Trial Period or Visits:
If possible, explore options to visit the camp location in advance to assess its suitability for your child and prepare your child for transitions.
Every child is unique, so it’s essential to find a camp that aligns with your child’s specific needs and interests. Engaging in open communication with camp staff can help address any concerns and ensure a positive experience for your child.
The Learnfully Summer Camp experience
At Learnfully, our summer programming is specifically designed for neurodiverse learners. Our executive functioning-embedded instruction is designed to encourage and motivate neurodiverse learners while helping to bridge educational gaps before a new school year begins.
Contact Learnfully today for more information about our in person and virtual summer programming. Call or text (888) 459 6450 or visit LearnfullySummerPrograms.com.