This is the first summer I have sent Daniel to a day camp. This particular camp has been around since before he was diagnosed autistic and it is specific to the needs of ASD children. They group the kids by age range and functioning level. There are activities scheduled each day and all of the campers are provided a one-to-one aide.
So why now that Daniel is 13 is this the first time I’ve sent him to camp?
The best I can do to explain is to give you this analogy…. Imagine sending your non-verbal 2 year old to a preschool where there is a camera feed so you can check in occasionally. You see your child crying and the aide keeps trying to give him a drink but he keeps dropping the cup. He is not thirsty but the aide is not picking up on the signals. He is becoming more and more frustrated and is slipping into the breathless cry where he gasps in between frantic wailing. You know what the problem is so you give the school a call to provide the proper remedy.
Now imagine the same scenario without the ability to see what is unfolding. Chances are there will be an instance where your child needs a communication intervention but you won’t know it so your child spends the entire day in a very stressful situation.
Now keep in mind that Daniel’s language skills are that of a 2 year old and he has been in some sort of preschool for as long as I can remember but somehow this seems different. There are no IEP meetings and no preparations beyond a short conversation with the aide.
I know it is still not beneficial for me or my son if I continue to be there for him 24/7 so this is my small step toward letting him go. He then will be obliged to utilize whatever communication skills he has acquired and hopefully expand on them in the process. I have to learn to trust those in charge and let Danny have the opportunity to learn, grow and enjoy an independent experience without me perched at his side.
Two days in and who do you think is having the harder time with this separation experiment?
Update: HE LOVED IT!!! 🙂