The Benefits of Summer Camp for Kids with Autism
Summer camp offers a structured opportunity for children to build essential social, communication, cognitive and sensory skills that they are unable to gain naturally. Since children with autism lack the basic social skills that are needed to interact with other children and adults, it’s a great opportunity for them to participate in programs that’ll help build those skills.
Social Skills & Development
Social skills camps encourage children to make new friends and socialize with other campers. It is a great opportunity for children with autism to expand and build their social skills with other children. Kids are rewarded for building social relationships rather than focusing on individual play. Children are grouped with other autistic kids of the same age group, improving chances of learning social skills. Specialized camps for kids with autism have trained staff to help kids get out of their comfort zone and try new things.
Physical and Mental Activity
Camp helps children consistently stay mentally and physically on-the-go. While promoting positive behaviors and peer interaction, physical activity is suggested to improve self-esteem and general levels of happiness.
Improvement of Motor Skills
By engaging in activities like Playing sports, running, participating in games, being part of teamwork exercises, children with autism can increase strength, endurance and overall motor skills. This can help children overcome various challenges in their everyday lives, such as limited motor functioning, leading to a healthier and happier lifestyle.
By consistently promoting positive behaviours and language, a child can learn what they can do rather than what they cannot do. Kids will learn appropriate ways to behave in everyday situations.
Participating in summer camp activities can also assist children with improving their self-confidence. Teamwork exercises, sports and other social activities can significantly help develop a sense of pride, accomplishment and self-worth.
Summer camps and activities provide opportunities like singing songs, learning to work together, sports games, outdoor activities, arts and crafts, and most importantly meeting new people and making friends. Summer camps provide such a great opportunity for our autistic/ADHD kids to make friends with others. Meanwhile, Summer camp is a great way for kids to build independence and learn new skills. They have to keep track of their stuff.
Why social skills are important for kids?
Social skills for children include:
play skills – for example, taking turns in games or sharing toys.
conversation skills – for example, choosing what to talk about or what body language to use
emotional skills – for example, managing emotions and understanding how others feel
problem-solving skills – for example, dealing with conflict or making decisions in social situations.
Social skills help all children know how to act in different social situations – from talking to grandparents to playing with friends at school.
Social skills can help your child make friends, learn from others and develop hobbies and interests. These skills can also help with family relationships and give your child a sense of belonging.
And good social skills are important for your child’s mental health and overall quality of life.
Strategies for helping autistic children develop social skills
Autistic children can learn social skills, and they can get better at these skills with practice. These ideas and strategies can help you build your child’s social skills:
social skills training
You can practise play skills with your autistic child by using toys to act out scenes. For example, you could hug a teddy, then feed teddy and put it to bed, have a tea party with a few teddies, or create a story using a play set like a farm, petrol station or airport.
Younger children might like movement games like red light/green light, Simon says, hide-and-seek or tag. Or you could just roll, bounce or kick a toy or ball between you. Older children might like to play games like Connect Four, Jenga or card games.
Prompting your child to take turns and follow rules, and praising your child when they do, will help your child learn. For example, you can say ‘My turn’ and ‘Your turn’. When your child lets you have a turn or follows a rule, you could say ‘Good taking turns’ or ‘Well done for saying Uno!’
Practising a skill in different play situations will help your child learn to use the skill more broadly. For example, you can practise taking turns while kicking a ball to one another, feeding a teddy, putting pieces of a puzzle together, or playing a game like Connect Four or cards games like snap or Uno.
Give your autistic child plenty of praise and encouragement when you see them interacting positively with others. For example, when you see your child offer a toy to another child, smile and say, ‘Wow! That is so friendly. You shared your blocks with your friend and waited your turn’.
You can use role-play before playdates and other social events. For example, you and your autistic child could:
do a role-play where your child suggests what to play with the other child
play the games that the children might play together
practise talking about things like what you’ve been watching on TV or what you did on weekend.
For older children you could also try setting up situations that involve a social problem – for example, having one piece of cake leftover for two people. Then you could role-play possible solutions, like both people sharing the cake. Other social problems could include not liking what has been cooked for dinner, not having a turn on the computer, or losing a sibling’s toy.
Helping autistic children use social skills in different situations
Autistic children can find it difficult to use the social skills they’ve learned in one setting in other situations. For example, your child might be able to share pencils at home with their siblings but not at school with their classmates.
To help your child use skills at school, talk to your child’s teacher to make sure you’re both using the same prompts for your child. It also helps to practise the same social skills in many different situations – for example, sharing pencils with a friend who visits or sharing pencils with a sibling at a café.
Tamara. (2021, May 8). 11 reasons why summer camp is good for your child with autism and ADHD. Autism and ADHD Connection. https://autismadhdconnection.com/11-reasons-why-summer-camp-is-good-for-your-child-with-autism-and-adhd/.
The Benefits of Summer Camp for Kids with Autism. Total Spectrum. (2019, May 28). https://www.totalspectrumcare.com/the-benefits-of-summer-camp-for-kids-with-autism/.