A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Camp’

A Good Kid

With the neuropsychological testing this week, Hubz and I have gotten mired down by all of the ways in which Jake is different, quirky, and behind like-age peers. Sometimes, though, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing…and where it counts, he’s a superstar.

Last Friday my sister picked Jake up from daycamp because Tate was at speech therapy and I can’t be 2 places at one time. When K picked him up, she asked how his day went. He told her it was good. Except when the big kids dunked him in the lake and he couldn’t breathe. Insert record screech….

During the beach time, Jake and his friend, Buddy, were playing in the lake. Buddy is precocious. He has advanced vocabulary, a matter-of-fact delivery style, and is very uninhibited about telling anyone what’s on his mind. As an adult, Buddy will be lauded for those things. As an 8 y.o., he’s the object of teasing and bullying.

So, as Jake and Buddy played in the lake, minding their own business, a few boys from the teen camp approached them. They started to give Buddy a hard time. They held his hands behind his back, and dunked him under the water until he cried. Jake stood up for Buddy, telling the older boys that they shouldn’t do that. The boys dunked Jake under the water. Jake, thankfully, is a strong enough swimmer that he popped up and swam away. He told the older boys they weren’t nice.

The lifeguards didn’t see this. The counselors were sitting off to the side in the shade, and they were unaware of this as well. Jake and Buddy didn’t tell anyone.

I told Jake I was proud of him for standing up for Buddy and himself. Hubz and I are always worried that Jake is somewhat of a pushover, so it was great that he spoke up. I applauded his calmness, and his loyalty to his friend. I told him that I was going to have to tell the counselors. He was ok with that. He was quite proud that he did the “right” thing.

I left a message for the camp director. On Monday, the counselor for Jake’s group pulled me aside and assurred me that the situation wasn’t being taken lightly. I thanked her. They are not allowing the teen camp to swim at the same time as the elementary school kid camp. Counselors are also taking turns going into the lake with the kids. She thanked Jake for speaking up. There is an anti-bully policy at camp, and the older boys were being reprimanded.

Hubz and I are relieved that the bullying didn’t harm Jake or Buddy physically. Jake seems fine emotionally.  We are proud that our son knew right from wrong and stood up for his friend, and he was brave enough to tell us what had happened. We are also worried about future instances, as Jake is small for his age, awkward, and a little different.

I do have hope, though,…because Jake’s got a good moral compass, likes himself, and is a good kid. I hope those things, along with our support and encouragement, are enough as he begins to navigate the world more independently.

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Happy Camper

Tate started day camp last week. By “day camp”, I mean M-W-F from 9-11:30. His first day went fairly well–for Tate. The second day he went to camp went better. By the third day, his therapist told me that she thought he could handle it on his own. He was maneuvering transitions fairly well, and kept up with the rest of his peers. The only real areas where prompting was needed by the therapist were in social interactions and in appropriate play with toys that he uses as stimmies. (Helicopters, sand table, and drum sticks.)

This week, camp has continued to go well. On Monday, his therapist reported that scripts were significantly decreased, pragmatic language was better, and he was following the routines. He talked about day camp yesterday when we were alone in the afternoon. (That therapist called in sick.) He told me about his “friends”. He said he colors, then he plays outside, then he gets water, then they read. He likes singing, too, but when I started to sing, I was promptly cut off, “No, no singing, Mommy.” To make his point abundantly clear, he wagged his finger at me and rested his hand on my arm.

Today went quite well. Tate’s therapist said that despite complaining that his tummy hurt, he played WITH his peers on the play equipment on the playground! He took turns on the climbing wall. He chased kids and they chased him. He. fit. in. Tate didn’t want his snack today, which is unlike him, but his therapist said that he was first to the song circle. They were supposed to hold hands, and when the boy next to him wouldn’t hold his hand, Tate tried again. The teacher apparently told Tate that it was ok, and had the reluctant boy come stand next to her. The next child Tate stood next to took his hand. Tate hugged the girl, and the girl reciprocated. (Please catch me as I’m about to faint…)

In the meantime, I got a message from the therapist who is supposed to be working with Tate on Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings. Even though she just started with him last week, she’s going on vacation this week. She isn’t here today. She won’t be here on Friday. She won’t be here for the next 5 Fridays. I started to panic. Who’s going to help Tate at camp?! Can he do it by himself?! I began to feel light-headed.

I brought up my concerns with Tate’s M-Th morning therapist, and I started to feel a little better. She reminded me of the strict routine at camp. Tate is managing the routine and transitions very well. She said that as long as the teacher (who is well aware of Tate’s autism) is ok with redirecting him when he gets sidetracked by his perseverations, she felt he’d be fine. I spoke with the teacher at the end of camp today. She said that he’s doing quite well, and is even interacting, minimally, with his peers. She said she’d be comfortable with him in the group without his therapist–as long as I’m reachable and able to come get him just in case. Being the parent of a child with special needs, I think I’m always planning for “just in case” and told her I’d definitely be reachable. She said she doubted she’d need to contact me. I let out a sigh of relief.

As we left, Tate proudly handed me his artwork from the day–a pig paper ring around a picture of a pig–that he drew. The pig paper ring is distinguishable. Anyone could tell immediately that it’s supposed to be a pig. The pink dot on his drawing doesn’t exactly suggest “pig”, but he followed directions. My kid…the one who barely was able to function in a classroom without one-to-one help last year in ESY, HE is following directions and participating in a neurotypical group class setting. Go, Tater Tot!!!

In that moment I felt hope…hope that Friday will go well. Hope that maybe….just maybe our kiddo is making bigger strides than we’ve given him credit for making. This all makes us very happy campers.

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