Utter Autism

June 24, 2007

camp conundrum

Camp starts in about a week.  Adrian went last year and loved it.  It’s really an awesome program.  His school runs the camp for the summer program.  He still gets his speech therapy and his OT, still works on his goals and many of the same teachers and support staff work there.  It’s a genuine ‘camp’ setting.  They spend the entire day outdoors, doing crafts, nature hikes and swimming. It’s really a unique program that I’m grateful we’ve got access to.

But this year I’ve got another concern. Do we send Adrian’s device to camp or not?  Sure, I can think of places he could use it.  He could use it to request a push on the swing, a drink when he’s thirsty or even to ask a question like ‘When do we go swimming?”  He could use it to continue to pursue his goal of reading/typing words.  There would be a lot of good ways for him to use it at camp.

Yet, sending the device poses some problems.  They move about the camp all day.  Does Adrian bring it with him everywhere?  How?  Does that increase the likelyhood that it will be lost or broken?  Obviously, bring it to the pool is a no-no, but who’s going to ensure it’s kept well out of the way?  Even on the playground, will the device be put on the ground while he plays?  Is that safe?

This device represents a lot of money and a lot of time.  Do the benefits outweigh the risk in this type of environment?  I’m not sure yet.  But I’ve got to make up my mind pretty quick.  Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome!

1 Comment »

  1. Dear Carol.

    Summer camp is a perfect opportunity for Adrian to use his new voice, but your concerns are
    certainly understandable.

    Will others be using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices at camp? Perhaps you could ask about their experiences. In any case, it sounds like the camp is a familiar place where Adrian and others will feel comfortable with the device.

    As for the logistics, is there an adult at camp (maybe someone who will be working one-on-onewith Adrian most of the time) who you would trust to keep an eye out while Adrian is using the device during activities, and could ensure that it is kept in a safe place when he is not using it? Perhaps you could make arrangements with that person before camp is in full swing.

    Another tip: be sure to put Adrian’s name on the device as well as any accessories or instruction manuals that he brings to camp, and to back up the pages on his device before he leaves for camp or returns there each day.

    You have some really good ideas to encourage Adrian’s use of the device. A few suggestions for vocabulary that may help him connect with others: the names of other campers, simple greetings, questions and compliments, such as “Hey, how’s your summer going?” and “I like your shoes. They’re awesome.” Using “slots” on the V, “sneakers” may be replaced, for instance, with “hats,” “sunglasses,” “family,” or “jokes.” The V also includes two visual camp scenes and a digital camp photo showing a tent, trees and a variety of campsite sights that Adrian can use to talk about camp.

    Jokes, by the way, are great conversation starters, as are digital photos uploaded to the device. Some children bring small photo albums that may be passed around at camp to show their families, pets or special events while using a device to talk about them. From my conversations with folks who have attended AAC camps, it seems that vocabulary for everyday conversation and to match the camp theme or planned activities are equally important.

    I would be happy to send you our 2007 camp publicity piece featuring blurbs on AAC camps around the United States for future reference. Please feel free to contact me personally for this, more camp information or with any questions you may have.

    Hope Adrian has a wonderful time at camp again this year. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kindest Regards,

    Patti Murphy
    DynaVox Technologies
    2100 Wharton Street, Suite 400
    Pittsburgh, PA 15203
    Phone #: (412) 222-7840
    Toll-free #: 1-866-396-2869

    Comment by Patti Murphy — June 29, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

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