Although most camps ask for lots of information about health issues and medications, youngsters with autism tend to have many unique characteristics. If parents share all the details, the camp nurse can respond to any medical issues quickly and the youngsters can focus on having fun.
1. Meds. If your child takes required medication, write down everything for the nurses. When do they take their meds at home? It is probably wise to keep that same schedule. How does your youngster take his meds? Some kids take meds only with applesauce. Others will only take meds with milk or water or a specific juice. Some youngsters only take meds from a paper cup. Others are handed one pill at a time. Let the camp nurse know if your youngster resists meds or tends to hide them in his pocket or in the back of his mouth rather than swallowing them.
2. Aches and pains. Does your youngster have headaches when he spends time in the sun? Do hangnails drive him crazy? Especially if your child is non-verbal, what clues does he give to help you recognize stomach problems, headaches, or a sore throat? One of my friends with autism describes a sore throat as a “sick neck.” Most people incorrectly interpret that as sore muscles. Our kids have their own small ways for communicating or describing pain, and we need to share that info with camp staff.
3. Allergies and sensitivities. Of course you will want to tell the camp nurse about specific allergies to things like cedar pollen, ant bites, wheat products, or hot dogs. But you also want to include details about sensitivities. For example, some youngsters can drink both orange juice and milk, but shouldn’t drink them at the same meal. Or some kids might be able to ride in a canoe, but not a motorized boat. The camp nurse would want to be alerted to the fact that your daughter loves watermelon, but that more than two slices result in diarrhea.
4. Sleep issues. A residential camp staff needs to be alerted to sleep-related issues such as sleepwalking, night terrors, frequent waking, frequent trips to the bathroom, or other behaviors, even if they just occur occasionally. Tell them what action is required, if any, when and if these issues pop up one night.
TIP FOR THE DAY. You get the idea. Jot down all those little details so the camp nurse and staff can maximize your youngster’s health and well being, allowing him to enjoy the week at camp.
NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at talk@FAQautism.com with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com