Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Hello Summer

Summer is here and that means trying to keep the kids busy.

We will have a holiday at a rental cottage up north in a couple of weeks. Otherwise I'm relying on an old standby to keep the kids occupied and out of each others' (and my) hair, for a few weeks out of this long summer. The old standby? Day camps!

Today was the first day Jack and Taylor attended day camp. I wanted to make sure that everything ran smoothly this morning so that I could get everyone where they needed to be. As we went about our morning routine I recognized that somehow I felt different from previous summers. Then I realized why.

My stress level was virtually normal. Yes, I was concerned about getting everyone out the door and dropped off on time but that was it, that was the only stressor I had.

And that's because...

Carter is not attending day camps this summer! I am free of that dreaded feeling I have experienced in the past when dropping him off to be in the care of someone else.

That feeling is much like the one I had with each of my children on their first day of kindergarten.....but multiplied by a thousand.

To entrust someone else with your child is no small thing. When your child is non-verbal? It's a whole different ball game.

Before Carter had his talker, I was one of only a handful of people who understood his form of communication (an adapted form of sign language and various different gestures).

So, I would supply Carter's camp support worker with an 'All About Me' sheet and a duo tang full of pictures of Carter signing different things (drink, eat, help, etc.). His support worker would then 'study' the information in preparation for her time at camp with Carter. But how can a support worker learn 'All About Carter' from a few sheets of paper and some commentary from his mother? Not possible. Which meant that Carter's day camp experiences weren't always positive.

Carter would never run to see me at the end of camp with stories about activities he'd done or who his new friends were. I was at the mercy of hearing how his day was from his support worker or a camp counsellor or sometimes no one at all if at the end of the day everyone was too busy to talk to me. Hearing that my son's day was 'fine' and that 'he had a lot of fun' was never very satisfying for me. But sometimes, as with my other children, that's all the information I got. The biggest difference being that if asked, my other children would share more details about their day. Carter could not.

Carter's communication has always been the number one challenge when entrusting someone else with his care. So, this year I'm thankful to be without all that worry. No need to research camps and figure out which ones will best suit Carter's interests. No need to find a suitable support worker to attend camp with him. And no nervous stomach on mornings when I'm dropping the kids off.

Instead, I'm feeling at ease because I'm dropping Carter off at a place he is totally familiar with. And everyone there is totally familiar with him. I'm dropping him off at his school three days a week. He'll continue with a familiar routine. He'll continue to learn, and to master new skills in an environment where I don't have to explain and re-explain his quirks and idiosyncrasies, and where I don't have to worry about whether his communication will be understood (in fact, they'll be working to improve Carter's communication skills with his talker - yes!).

Don't fret. Carter will still be having lots of fun this summer. And he will actually be attending camp -- AAC camp! He went last year and had a blast.

Stay tuned for a blog update in August. I'll be sure and share about his AAC camp experience.

1 comment:

  1. Yay Carter! You are so lucky to have access to such a great camp.