Cindy Ring, MSW, LSW
Expert Name:  Cindy Ring, MSW, LSW
Expert Title: MSW, LSW
Company Name:  Step By Step Inc.
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Cindy is a clinical administrative associate with Step By Step Inc. Her responsibilities include designing research studies, protocols and evaluation tools, data collection and analysis and writing and editing grants and reports. Cindy is a member of the National Psychology Honor Society and a licensed social worker. She holds an MSW in Social Work Administration from Ohio State University, a BS in Psychology from Wright State University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Forensic Psychology from Walden University.

My Teen Wants to go to Summer Camp

 
Everyone (well, most everyone) has fond memories of summer camp when they were children and teens.  Summer camps are a great way to make friends, get outdoors, learn a new activity or hobby or two and have something to do for a few weeks out of the summer.  They also can be a hot mess of bug bites, homesickness, and misery.  So, what if your teen with an autism spectrum disorder decides he or she would like to go to summer camp?  Here are a few tips to help with the process:
 
First of all, congratulate your teen!  This is a huge step in the direction of independence and a great way to practice being away from home in a supportive environment!
 
Decide whether your teen would do best in a camp that caters to teens with special needs or a camp for typical teens.  I know it’s tough, but try to put your desires as a parent aside for this and try to really think about where your teen would thrive.  Each of these types of camps have their pros and cons, so this will require a lot of planning.
 
Does your teen have a special interest that a summer camp may cater to?  There are summer horse camps, theatre camps, chess camps, IT camps, college prep camps, art camps, etc.  The number is practically endless!  Finding a camp that is all about your teens special interest could be like a dream come true for him or her!  Take the extra time and look for those types of camps if your teen is wanting that type of experience.
 
Make a troubleshooting guide with your teen.  Try to think of the types of issues that may come up during a stay at camp and create a plan about what to do for each with your teen.  Then, send the plan with him or her to prepare for the unexpected.  So, if something unexpected happens, your teen will have a guide about what to do.  Also, include important phone numbers in this.
 
Visit the camp ahead of time if possible.  If it is an overnight camp, take pictures of where the teen will be sleeping and staying.  For all types of camp, if you can, take pictures of important places at the camp- the bathrooms, the place where people will be eating, and some of the staff members if possible.  Then, create a magazine or comic style social story for the teen to read and get used to before going off to camp.  It might also be a good idea to get a copy of the rules or a handbook so you and your teen can review it before going to camp.
 
These are just a few tips to help your teen if he or she decides to take the summer camp challenge.  Careful planning ahead of time can make the summer camp experience a memorable one for your teen!