Friday, August 1, 2008

No Meltdowns While Returning Home from Camp!!

Picking up from last Sunday's post

The last time I posted I wrote about the possibility of a meltdown because we traded in our old minivan for a new one while my son who has ASD was away at summer camp. He was dropped off in a cranberry-colored Plymouth Voyager, but picked up in a dark blue Dodge Grand Caravan SE.

Should I have worried? Not at all. He was actually quite excited when I told him that we had a new van.

"Let's go see it!" he responded, bouncing up and down. So he was happy. He even let me drive a new way home. This was after I explained that there was a detour anyway because of road construction. He's never been a fan of road construction and detours.

I will admit to not pushing my luck too much. My guy started insisting that we stop at a rest area--after we passed it. As we were not on an expressway, it was easy enough to backtrack back. Should I have made this concession? I don't know. What I do know is that he probably didn't have to "go" too bad. He just wanted to stop and check the rest area out. Sigh... A difference a year makes.

Two of the counselors in my son's cabin were also his counselors last year. Both said they could tell that he "grew" quite a bit in the year and they didn't mean by inches, although he has grown some that way too. They said he talked more, did better when it came time to go to bed (didn't cry to go home) and willingly participated in all the activities.
The difference from age six
While it's more difficult for me to see a year's difference than the two counselors (who hadn't seen him since the camp last summer), I can certainly tell the difference in my son from how he was years ago when he began attending camp as a six year old.
Today my fourth-year camper was much easier to bring home than he was that first year after camp. It appeared to us way back then that he was having a meltdown because he didn't want to leave. However, I now believe the real issue was his difficulty with transitions. He's come such a long way since then in dealing with transitions. Other than a little grumbling and one insistance to stop, we had no difficulty with that today.
The Sand Man
As they are every year, each camper was presented with an award. My guy's award was for being the "Sand Man." Apparently the counselors noted he liked to get down to his elbows in dirt (though the counselors also said he always washed up after such play.) Okay, I'm pretty sure this is a newly discovered passion. Hmm. Maybe I should reserve some of our new backyard space (created by a recent removal of thick brush) for dirt play as he seems to have abandoned our sand box.
A Photo CD helps tell the story
I still depend a great deal on counselors to figure out what went on at camp. My guy can tell me about a few things he did like celebrating Christmas in July, but I would have been clueless about the sand man award without the counselors' explanations.
Two other things that helped was a half page newsletter (which explained some ideas behind the art he brought home) and a photo cd that he brought home from camp. (I'd post a few, but I do not have permission yet.) While we've gotten always gotten the newsletter, the photo cd (similar to the one he brought home from his day camp in mid-July) was a new feature last year.
Will he go back next year?
If nothing unexpected comes up that prevents him from going. He loves camp so much. This I can tell. We all missed him and vice versa when he was gone, but my guy thrives on independence and this overnight camp two hours from home is good for him.
As for me, it was the most difficult on an emotional level to let him go that first year. Maybe it was because he was only six, but maybe it was because it also was the first time he was away from home and family for multiple days and nights. All I can say about that is that my son is not the only one who has improved in some ways over the years. I am not (and am proud to say it) the worrywart I was four years ago. Thank goodness for that.


Marla said...

Sounds like everything went great. I am so glad they provide a way for you to know how camp went, the CD is a great way for that.

The Sand Man award is too cute! I love it.

I am so happy that he loved the new van. What a relief. Sometimes we worry so much about so many things and then it goes great! I love it when that happens.

I am so glad you read the interview I did on Anne C. Thank you for commenting.

J said...

I loved the Sand Man award too. : )

You are welcome for the comments on the interview. : )