Summer camp can be very beneficial for a child; it fosters independence while giving them an opportunity to broaden their social skills, and it cultivates an appreciation for nature and outdoor activities (assuming they stay out of the poison ivy). In terms of development, it’s a far better option than allowing your child to spend most of the summer indoors. Children are constantly learning–be it in a formal or informal environment–and using what they learn to adjust themselves to the world we live in. The summer vacation can sometimes threaten to interrupt this process, which can be particularly detrimental for children with special needs.
Luckily, there are many summer camp programs designed specifically for children who experience any of a wide range of difficulties–from social and developmental differences such as autism or asperger’s syndrome, to learning disabilities like ADHD or Dyslexia, to serious medical issues such as diabetes or cancer. For these children, it is very important to continue providing the education and skills needed to overcome their specific challenges even when school is not in session. And it goes without saying that learning and interacting with peers who share the same difficulties and experiences can have very positive effects in terms of self-esteem and social and emotional competence.
I’ve created a new category for special needs summer camps on our articles and resources sites MySpecialEd-504page.com and MyParentingPage.com, which I will continue to add to as I discover new camps and programs (one quick google search of “Special needs summer camps” reveals that they are plentiful), but here are a few programs and directories I’ve discovered that are particularly useful:
I have found that parents of special needs children are often unaware of these programs and their impressive success rates, so it can be helpful to provide them with this information. If you have any recommendations for special needs camps, please let us know in the comment section.