My blog post about how a preschooler with autism was excluded from a fitness club babysitting service generated mega buzz on Facebook and Twitter. Parents wrote that their kids (with special needs) had been booted out of childcare centres, summer camps, recreation and parks programs and even church and faith communities. One mom reported that her child with autism was even banned from a summer camp for kids with autism!
Our kids can be included. Sometimes, all it takes is an open discussion between parents and staff to make it work. Often service providers, like recreational therapists from a children’s treatment centre, can provide inclusion tips to program staff. And sometimes a volunteer or a peer buddy can help a child participate successfully. For info and tips on including kids with special needs in sports and rec, see my Today’s Parent article “This is my Game” (April 2010).
When Talia was a preschooler, she attended childcare centres part-time with one-on-one support. Fortunately, all of the regular childcare staff shared an attitude and commitment for inclusion. Often we had team meetings, brainstorming ways to help my daughter interact with other kids and to minimize meltdowns. Now, years later, informal peer support often enables Tal to enjoy summer camp or a youth group.
I thought it might be helpful for us to share strategies and success stories. Where has your child been successfully included in community programs, childcare centres, summer camps, etc? What made that experience so successful?
Photo by Clarkston SCAMP via Flickr