Class Overnight with an Autistic ChildClass Overnight with an Autistic Child

Does your child with autism do overnights?

My child has done overnights only with other family members.

What does an overnight mean? It means that they sleep somewhere that’s NOT their home.

Of course, my child has gone on numerous vacations. But, those were always with his parents or a relative. My child sleeps well in a hotel room. He has also done well at a relativeʼs house.

I think most families are able to travel with their autistic child. There are some exceptions, of course, but most figure out some way to travel.

What is different between a sleepover verses staying in a hotel with your family?

Sleepovers are traditionally without your parents around—except for the host parents. Which means the host parents need to know about your child’s issues.

Hopefully, the host parents know about autism or even have an autistic child.

The main thing is your child with be without you while staying at another location.

The environment is totally different. Many of our kids have sensory needs and, for the most part, they prefer whatʼs familiar. Theyʼre calmer around the familiar.

Is your child ready for a sleepover?

I prepare my child by talking to him ahead of time. I know the environment heʼs going to, and so far, heʼs been familiar with the location.

So, what do I do next year when, as a sixth grader, my sonʼs entire class takes a trip to the mountains for a four-day overnight?

Is your child ready for a class overnight?

My son is excited about going. He loves mountains and heʼs already looking forward to it.

I’m not ready yet.

What will make me feel for secure?

At my sonʼs last IEP, I asked the question, “Can they accommodate my son on this trip?”

My goal is to get an aide to go with my son on this trip. I fear that heʼll wander off. I know the chances that he actually will is low. But, you canʼt stop a mother from worrying!
I mentioned this at the IEP to make it official, they put it in the notes, and I will make sure that they follow through with it.

What else did I find out?

My son has always had a female aide. On this camping overnight, heʼll need a male aide since the boys cabin and the girls cabin are separated.

I briefly considered sending him without an aide, since we are weaning the aide off during sixth grade, but I figure why chance it.

A cabin in the mountains is a great idea in my sonʼs head. He really does love to be in the mountains. But, it is a very unfamiliar environment. Heʼll be sleeping in a cabin with other peers.

My goal is for my son to be safe. No doubt about that.

My main concern is to keep on top of school since the pool of male aides is relatively small. They have sent males aide to camp before, so I feel confident that it will happen.

I put the school on notice to provide a male aide for my son a year early. I want to make sure heʼs covered. I want him to go, but I need to feel okay. Iʼll continue to talk to him about the trip. I know he can go and have a great time.

If you’re interesting in summer camps, check out these:

http://www.kidscamps.com/special_needs/autism.html

More on Kimberly Kaplan:

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Twitter: @tipsautismmom
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