Johnny started going to summer camp this past week for the second summer in row. He loved his experience last year so much that we thought we wouldn’t change things up. A nursery/preschool offers an integrated camp 5 mornings a week with a ratio of camper to teacher 4:1. Then on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday afternoons Johnny has lunch there and then attends a social communication camp where he has been paired with a University student for 1:1 instruction.
One month before camp started I had to bring Johnny in so that they could video tape him playing with me and watch and listen to observe how he communicates. The teacher was immediately amazed at how different Johnny seemed. She had watched his videos from last year before our appointment and she commented on how much he was trying to say now and how incredibly curious he is. He remembered her and gave her a stunning smile and shocked her by saying “hi” and her name. I think that made her day and she said she was very excited to get the opportunity to spend some time with him again.
What we are hoping to have happen for Johnny is have as many of the folks that are helping him collaborate and thankfully this happened with his summer camp. The SLP on Johnny’s Autism team at school has been creating a communication book for him to use to augment his communication when words are not easily said or people don’t understand him. It was late in the school year that this was created for him and his school was sending it home with him for us to familiarize him with it over summer. I had an idea to see if his summer camp would be comfortable with working with it since they use PECs and visual schedules for all their campers and they said yes. So Johnny’s SLP from school made a special visit and trained the staff and updated the book for them and told them they were free to add their own pages because in the end its “Johnny’s book” and for him to take and use anywhere. Yeah!
How did Johnny do after his first week? Considering it was super hot last week and he had to be outside and then in side a semi-air conditioned church basement he did very well. He was lucky to get the same University Student from last year to work with him again. She said she counldn’t believe how different he seemed from last year. He’s still the same happy smiling boy but he was trying to talk so much now and was super curious wanting to show her everything and try and ask questions about things in the church and at camp. It was like his mind was working a mile a minute but she said it was fun. She was very proud that he was using his communication book easily but was also choosing to try and say some sentences spontaneously without it.
Another reason why I know Johnny was having a good camp experience was by the amount of paint or “goop” (cornstarch and water) that was splashed on his clothes, legs, and feet when I pick him up. Lots of fun for my sensory boy:) He now wants to paint pictures again at home which I’ll post about very soon because we have just had a major breakthrough over the weekend. Can’t wait to see what happens after his second week at camp:)