Our dear son, age 11, went to a 3-day, 2-night camp with his sixth grade class. Much to our surprise, he did not get attacked by wild animals, wander off into the wilderness or ask to go home. He had fun. He canoed, cooked s’mores, went on a hayride and participated in various outdoor activities just like any other child his age.
My husband and I, on the other hand, sat near the phone the entire three days. We were expecting a phone call that said Connor couldn’t handle being away from home, and would we please come and pick him up. Fearing that Connor might be held against his will by tyrannical camp counselors, we were also fully prepared to don camouflage attire, night vision goggles and hide in the bushes so that we could keep an eye on our one and only. We had half-jokingly requested the teacher and/or policeman/chaperone not to shoot if they saw suspicious looking bushes around the campfire. The teacher’s response was warm, but firm — “I can assure you with 100% confidence that your son will be supervised closely, loved extravagantly, and helped whenever necessary. We can tell early on if there will be a problem.” She also knew that Connor would likely have a nice experience, because for the first time, he wanted to go to an overnight camp.
As parents of kiddos with autism, we are prepared for anything and everything to go wrong. What we aren’t prepared for are for things to go right. My goal for this year is to learn how to become more of a ‘typical parent,’ and to expect even more experiences like these as my son learns to enjoy more activities with his typical peers!