Sunday we dropped our son with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder off for three weeks of summer camp. Three weeks of summer camp for typical kids.
Long breaks from school are hard on my son. The security and sameness of routine at school help organize his thinking. Try as I might to follow a routine here at home (and we do) not everything can stay the same. While there is noise and controlled chaos at school, the kids there aren’t his siblings or family. They have no expectations of him. And if he has a rough day, well, he eventually gets to come home.
Long days and weeks at home are too much if he doesn’t get a break. He has a buddy who picks him up for a few hours on Saturdays. They go to the library, play sports or video games or watch movies. His buddy has no expectations of him. They just hang out together, and he gets a break.
Last summer our son went to a day camp for “at-risk” kids. It was a mixed bag. He had good days and really, really bad days. He made friends with a couple of rougher kids and typical of kids with FASD, he went along with his friends’ “ideas”. It didn’t end well.* He doesn’t have good judgement or the greatest grasp on cause and effect.
This year, we decided to send him to regular old summer camp. Our son doesn’t cause trouble at school. On his worst days, he goes into “shut down mode” and either refuses to talk of falls asleep. Neither of those are seen as particularly difficult behaviors. A friend (who also has a son with special needs) told me how great this camp was for his son last year.
A few months ago I called the camp and talked to the director. I explained to him about my son, his special needs and his behaviors and they gave me the green light to send him.
I saw this cup in the camp bathroom and somehow it struck me as funny…I can’t imagine there are too many moms at summer camp…
I’m not sure how my son feels about summer camp; he’s not much of a conversationalist. He went to Boy Scout camp two years ago and seemed to enjoy it….according to the Scoutmaster.
I learned two thing about my son’s Boy Scout camp experience:
- His foot hurt when he went on a hike.
- They went sandboarding. This second piece of information I learned a full year later when we were in Oregon and he saw some people sandboarding.
Conversation isn’t his strong suit.
I’m happy he’s at camp. I imagine he is having a great time. Swimming! Fishing! Horses! Crafts! Sports!
Seriously, what’s not to love?
But I’m his mom. I’ve cared for him daily for nearly fourteen years and my heart is wrapped up in his. I know I will hear very little if anything about his weeks at camp. I sent him with a disposable camera, so perhaps that will offer some clues.
For now, I’m torn between worrying about my son and being happy for him.
* The friend my son met, happened to be named Jesus. Which is awesome because we get to make all kinds of jokes about that time he went to camp and met Jesus…how Jesus was a bad influence on him and how much trouble he got in with Jesus. **
** Hey, in our life, it’s laugh or cry, my friends.