While all children need to get away from the monotony of every day life occasionally, children with medical needs or disabilities often crave this experience even more. Nothing can be better than time spent away from school, therapies, doctors’ appointments, and hospital stays. A great way to let your child get away from it all is to send him or her to overnight camp.
It may be very difficult to imagine that your child can go to camp, but there are camps out there designed for children with almost every type of special need or disability. These camps include intensive medical or self-help support, allowing children to flourish away from home.
Determining the Type of Camp
There are hundreds of camps out there, so the first thing you need to do is figure out what type of camp your child can attend. Here are the general types of camps available:
- Regular Camp with Supports: If your child only has minor issues such as moderate asthma or mild cerebral palsy, he or she may be able to attend a regular camp with a little extra attention from the nursing staff and counselors.
- Medical Camp: Medical camps, which may be general or condition-specific (such as a cancer camp or MDA camp), are for children whose medical needs would otherwise prohibit them from attending camp. Children usually need significant assistance in one or more areas, including medication administration, tube feedings, IV nutrition or medication, catheterization, respiratory support, nursing services, activities of daily life (toileting, dressing), and so forth.
- Condition-Specific Camp (Non-Medical): Children with physical disabilities, visual/hearing impairments, autism, intellectual disabilities, or significant behavioral issues will typically not be able to attend a regular camp or a medical camp, but there are hundreds of camps out there geared toward children with these conditions. Children with autism, ADHD, intellectual impairment, developmental disability, mental health disabilities and similar other conditions typically attend camps with special supports to help guide behavior and development. Children with physical disabilities who do not need significant medical care can attend specialized camps that have activities adapted for children with physical limitations, including children in wheelchairs or walkers.
- Specialty Camps: There are not many specialty camps for children with disabilities, but there are some, most of which focus on a specific therapy or technique. These may include camps for Augmentative Communication, ABA camps, Conductive Education camps, and similar other camps.
- Family Camp: Family camp allows the entire family to attend as a group. While family camps are available for children with almost any special need, they are particularly well suited to children who are very medically complex and cannot attend camp without constant one-on-one assistance from a parent.