Summer Can be Fun for Children with Autism

Summer Can be Fun for Children with Autism

Date: April 23, 2014
Author: Stephanie Burgess, Early Autism Project
Source: Mt. Pleasant Magazine

Plan a Fun, Enriching Summer for Children with Autism

Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and the cold days of winter are a distant memory. Summer is finally here and Charleston-area families are beginning to take advantage of the warm weather and abundance of outdoor activities and events.

Family vacations, summer camps, and sports leagues may be some of the kid-friendly options under consideration this time of year. But for families who have a child with autism, finding the right activities to fill the summer months can be particularly challenging.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears in the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to effectively communicate and socially interact with others. It is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the country, affecting nearly 1.5 million Americans, according to the Autism Society of America. Today, one in 88 children is born with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

For many children with an ASD, interacting socially with other children in a school or community environment can be challenging, not only for the child but for his or her instructors, coaches and peers who may not understand autism or its behavioral manifestations. At times, what might be considered a routine or simple activity can become overwhelming for a child with autism. And changes to their regular routine — like when school lets out for the summer — can be particularly disruptive. Fortunately, the Charleston area offers families many opportunities for summer activities.

Summer Camps and Family Fun

There are wonderful summer camps available for children who have autism, including:

  • Camp Good Times, located in Charleston, provides children with autism an enriched summer experience. Counselors are trained in the field and design programs to promote socialization and offer opportunities for children to explore their community during planned outings.
  • Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding at CATR Farms in John’s Island helps children and adults find joy and accomplishment through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies.
  • Surfers Healing utilizes the volunteer efforts of seasoned surfers who teach children with autism how to surf. Surfers Healing will host a camp at Folly Beach in August.

Helpful Family Tips

Families planning to attend camps or events may find it helpful to spend a little time preparing a child with ASD for the experience they are about to have. Talk about the event ahead of time, explaining what the child will do and see. Show them pictures or tell them a story so they know what to expect. Also, when evaluating a summer camp or day camp program, inquire about the experience level of the instructor and the ratio of students to instructors.

Summer is on the way! Hopefully, armed with this information, Charleston-area families who have a child with autism or a related disorder will have no trouble filling the summer calendar with fun and enriching activities.

Stephanie Burgess is the Director of the Early Autism Project (EAP), Inc., Charleston Clinic, located at 1123 Queensborough Drive. EAP offers in-home and in-clinic Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children and young adults ages 20 months to 21 years with autism spectrum and other related disorders. ABA is covered by many private and government insurance providers. To learn more about EAP’s programs in Charleston, visit www.EAPCharleston.com or contact Stephanie atsburgess@earlyautismproject.com or (843) 352-7049. 

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