Its’ that time of year. Kids are almost finished school and getting ready for summer activities. For some of them, that includes camp.
If you have a child with autism, it could look different for you. Although you dream of your child going to camp and having fun with their peers, it’s not always possible.
First of all, you have to find a camp that your child shows interest in. That’s not as big of a hurdle as actually being able to afford the camp. Let me explain.
One year, both of our kids attended the Toronto Zoo camp. The fee for each child for the week was $250.00, which was manageable. But our son was not able to be there without support, so we sent one of his therapists with him. Her fee (which was just her regular hourly wage) ended up being close to $1,000.00 for the week. Well that’s the only camp we could afford that summer.
I was looking at an outdoor day camp this year. Our son would love it. There are lots of outdoor activities, like swimming and different kinds of boating. The two-week price was a bit of a stretch at just over $1,200.00. But then to add a support worker on top of that was an additional $900.00. That put it way out of reach for us.
For parents trying to keep some sense of a schedule accompanied by fun while engaging their child, is not always possible.
The fees of things like camp are so high. So you are left to figure things out on your own, which is what I usually do.
Our church this year has implemented an addition to their current half-day camp by adding full support for kids on the autism spectrum. The kids are directly integrated with typically developing peers, which is fantastic! We have worked closely with our church to bring this about since we are members and it is truly an amazing thing to be a part of from the beginning.
We as a community need to help families. Because it’s not only the cost of a camp for kids with autism. The average family with a child on the spectrum spends at least $1,000.00 per month on other things such as supplements, different therapies, tutors and other dietary requirements for their child.
This is going to be part of my personal mission going forward — to help families. Right now, I don’t know how this will be achieved, but I am going to work towards ways to make this happen.
Camps, whether they are day or overnight, run by the city or not, need to be open, provide the proper support and be affordable for everyone.