Last week Sweet M stopped talking. She'd give a thumbs up or a thumbs down as "yes" or "no," and if you insisted, she'd yield and use words. But other than that, she was incommunicado.
At school -- during the last week of school -- the kids were writing in their notebooks about what they were going to do on their vacations. Many of the kids were writing about going to camp. But M wrote that she was going to a hotel, and going in a swimming pool there. When M's teacher asked her camp, M turned to her and growled, "No, I haaaate camp."
As I mentioned back in March, Sweet M has not had good camp experiences. Last year she was at an inclusion program at the local Y, and that didn't exactly work out swimmingly. In fact, Sweet M didn't swim at all because no one was allowed to help her with her hair and swimsuit (as no one was allowed to touch her for fear of allegations of abuse).
And the year before she went to a day camp an hour out of the city, which involved getting up at 6 to catch a 7 am bus several miles from our home. When we went to the parent's day we saw how miserable she'd been all summer and our hearts broke.
On the advice of M's doctor, I contacted Karenne Bloomgarden AKA "The Camp Lady," who runs KB Camp Services in Manhattan, and helps parent's find appropriate camps for their kids. Karenne was fantastically helpful and knowledgeable, and came up with three possible options that I followed up with.
Unfortunately, the first one was full with a long waiting list.
The second one wound up not seeming appropriate. Even NT-me was starting to feel dysregulated when the camp representative started talking about the outdoor morning assembly with the groups doing cheers.
But I was excited about the third option: excited and amazed to learn that there is a camp for special needs kids opening up just two blocks from where we live. So I went about enrolling Sweet M.
Now I am concerned.
When Sweet M stopped talking, I sat down with her and asked her if she was worried about something. She didn't say anything. I asked if she was worried about camp. She nodded her head. Then I said that if camp was no fun that she could just stop going and we'd do something else.
And guess what? She looked obviously relieved and started talking again. She said, "I hate camp."
I said, thinking maybe we could get away with a name change, "What about summer school?"
"No, NO summer school."
So I said she could go to new and better camp for one week to try it, and if it's no fun, she could do something else.
I'm thinking I may take a cue from MOM-NOS and figure out some way to keep Sweet M home -- get her a babysitter to take her out to do things this summer instead of going the camp route.
This morning I called the camp to ask if they'd prorate the camp fee if it didn't work out for Sweet M. I could use the refund money to hire a babysitter and set up a summer activities schedule for Sweet M.
They said no. No refunds.
You can't really blame them -- they have a program to run. They already hired their staff, etcetera, etcetera.
But then when the administrator wished me "good luck" with a tone that rang of "sorry, not my problem that you got suckered into paying for our camp" -- then I was feeling pretty damn cranky myself.
You know, I'm starting to hate camp, too.
Keywords: autism • Asperger's Syndrome • ADHD • learning disabilities • special education • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) • parenting • family life