This week I have been collectively holding my breath. I finally released it this morning with relief and happiness. It was Michael’s first week at a new non-adapted camp. Last year he did well at another non-adapted camp, but he did not like his companion/shadow, and the experience was less than favorable. At this year’s camp fortunately, it is the complete opposite. He loves the camp, his companion/shadow and looks forward to going each day. We only signed him up for two weeks just in case, but it seems to be successful. I have not seen him this happy at a camp in awhile. He is kept busy, he does crafts, and he has even made a little friend. He is excited to go in the morning. There is no problem with him getting up, getting dressed and out the door. He goes for more hours a day but that works for him. He is a high energy kid. And this works better for me too as I can get more work done. 🙂 And, as a bonus the camp is right up the street from us. It’s great all around. I had forgotten the last time I saw my little guy this happy.
As a Mom I have been humbled once again by Michael this week. He has amazed me with how well he has adapted to a neuro typical environment, how well he can articulate and follow the day with a few reminders only, and how well he is using strategies to calm down with me when he gets anxious. One of these is drawing out the day on paper with words and pictures. Sunday was a stressful start for us, and not surprisingly, he was a little nervous due to a change in routine. We were not going to church, but Dad and he were driving me to a speaking engagement. As soon as he got up and I noticed how anxious he was talking a mile a minute and challenging everything Dad and I said to him, I asked him to draw out the day as we had planned it on the dry erase board previously. It was amazing!
Just as drawing stick figures or looking at pictograms had helped in the past, seeing him write out the words I felt the energy in the room change. I also saw his physical body relax, his breathing calm. He was a new kid. My little guy is learning how to manage some very difficult emotions and feelings by using his own strategies and techniques that work for him. I, as his Mom, am also learning to trust my gut and what I know works for my kid. I’m also learning to observe him closely and really see what he is feeling and what tips I could give him that empower him to find the solutions. I have had so many moments in the last few days that were WOW moments. He has come so far. He has achieved so much. I felt that he started the summer at a much younger age, and is maturing now into an incredible little man. He is really coming along in sports. He loves soccer, tennis and is starting to take an interest in basketball. He loves asking questions and learning about the world around him. And he is learning about limits even when he doesn’t like them. And oh, his sense of humor is growing more by the day.
Exceptional Parents, how is your child’s level of functioning in the summer? Are they happier or more stressed at home or camp? It is not a black and white issue for our kids, and many fall in between with reactions. As you learn more about what makes your child tick, you will be able to fine tune things that make them more comfortable, and what to avoid. Trust yourself as their parent and look to your child for changes that help them feel better. The important thing is to encourage them to grow into themselves at their own pace and in their own time. You will do it as will they. Until next time.