Okay, the summer is over and now its time to start blogging again. I’ll start with two awesomely incredible camps that Raymond attended this year.

First up was the Stage Door Stars Sensory and Social Learning Theater Camp. Stage Door is our local non profit theater troupe. This camp had an excellent staff and was fairly affordable. We jumped in as soon as we heard about it, as I loved drama in high school and continued acting into my early 20s. I am familiar with the power of expression and hoped it might help Raymond express himself. The camp itself was a small army. Every child had a buddy, who was a volunteer. Additionally, they had 2 occupational therapists, a speech therapist, a drama teacher, a special ed teacher, and I think a few other folks I’m forgetting. (The camp was in early June and its now late August, so forgive me.)

Raymond had a rough first day, but the staff really pulled together and made a plan to help support him. That, more than anything, made me feel great about this camp. I know my son can be difficult, but I felt like they saw his potential like I do. They switched his schedule around, got some sensory support and trained his buddy a little bit and he had a wonderful remainder of the week. The performance was at the very end of the camp.

My wife and I, Raymond’s grandparents, our good friend Sheila, Raymond’s autism teacher and school paraprofessional all attended the performance. It was incredible. They did a narrated version of “How I Became A Pirate,” an adorable little book about a child who imagines himself at sea with pirates. Every child had a line, and Raymond said his nice and loud! I think my wife cried the whole time. Raymond looked in the audience and his face lit up when he saw everyone that was there. He did everything he was supposed to and the entire performance went off without a hitch.

The second camp was with Raymond’s occupational therapist, Helping Hands Pediatric Occupational Therapy. Lisa Worcester, the owner, managed the camp. Again, she had a buddy for each kid and plenty of staff on hand to help create fun activities. The camp was called Camp Adventure, and every day they studied a different country.

What I really liked about it was that Raymond was calm the entire day after camp. They must have done a ton of heavy work, because Raymond’s sensorium was totally at peace. It helped us have a wonderful week at home in addition to his enjoyable camp experience. The food was also gluten and casein free. Lisa is really sensitive to the needs of the autism community, and she really does her homework. She is a clearinghouse of good information and a great person to have on your team.

Best of all, Raymond had a smile on his face when we showed up and a bigger smile when I picked him up. He brought home a camp “passport” with information on all the different countries and recipes for the foods they ate. He still, several months later, knows all the countries, how to pronounce the different names and can sing a couple of the songs they learned.

I highly recommend both of these organizations. Check their websites for information. Stage Door is a wonderful organization that hit a home run with its camp this summer. Helping Hands is Raymond’s OT shop, and we have been going there for 3 years. Check them out!