Children who are older can sometimes benefit from recreational summer or day camps, which provide varied activities for children of different ages, abilities and interests. These programs are often considered to be confidence-building, as they enable participants to have fun and feel independent in a setting where they are away from their families. Depending on the type of camp – which can be geared towards specific populations – children will have access to stimulating activities such as horseback riding, the arts, swimming and other similar summertime activities.
The level of medical support and supervision at such camps can vary depending on the target population they serve, so it is important for parents to research these programs to ensure they are a good fit for their child. Typically, camps of this type will conduct a short screening interview with parents to determine if their camp is a good fit for the child as well.
Programs can be administered through local or community recreational organizations, state programs, or independent entities. Organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) can sometimes point parents at resources in their local area, as such organizations often have branches in every state and often in each of the different state regions as well.
The following resources can help you begin your search for camps for your child with special needs:
- Local Autism Support Branches [such as this one, in Michigan]
- Local Departments of Human Services/Councils on Developmental Disabilities
- Individual State Family Networks [such as the Vermont Family Network]
- Developmental Disabilities Camps [hosted by veryspecialcamps.com] [includes search by state and keyword]
- Developmental Disabilities Summer Camps
- Retreats, Camps & Recreational Programs for Developmental Delay
- Camp Resources
- Specialized Children’s Camping Experiences
- Disabled World Camp Links Collection
- New Horizons Camps
- Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Special Needs Resource Directory: Camps and Recreation
- Children’s Dayton Special Needs Camp Resource Directory