Tips for Summer Camp Success for Your ADHD Child
Summer camp can be a wonderful experience for kids with ADHD, if it's a successful experience. There are some things you can do to help ensure success. Even if your child is excited about summer camp or has already been through the experience once, you might find some useful suggestions here.
Increase Your Child's Comfort Level
If your child already knows at least one other child at camp before they go, it will increase his comfort level. Ask the camp for a list of local campers, so you can contact the parents. You can either have your child talk on the phone with the camper, set up a play date with one child, or set up a group play date. You might want to consider doing this with a day camp as well as sleepaway camp.
The more familiarity your child has with the camp, the lower the anxiety level will be. Go over the camp brochure with your child several times. See if the website has a virtual tour of the camp or a video. Get a map of the camp and study it with your child.
Include your child in the selection process; he'll be more invested and feel more in control of the situation.
Help the Camp Director Familiarize Himself with Your Child
The camp director should meet with your child before camp starts. If he or she is reluctant to for some reason, or too busy, find another camp.
Write out a profile of your child for the camp director. Answer these sorts of questions:
- Describe your child's personality. Is she outgoing or shy? Is she comfortable in group situations, or might she need a little extra attention then?
- What are her fears?
- What activities does she enjoy?
- Does she have siblings and what ages are they?
Prepare a list of potential behavioral issues your child may encounter, and how they are best handled. Are time outs an effective disciplinary tool with him, or does removing privileges get through better? Of course, the director may have a preferred method of discipline, but if you make it clear that you're just imparting information instead of telling her how to do her job, then it should be well received.
Talk to the camp director about what goals you and your child have for his stay there. What areas of development are important to you? Do you want your child to make friends? Boost overall confidence? This is where the increase in individualized attention your child will receive at a camp for kids with ADHD will come into play.
Should Your Child Take a Drug Holiday?
Discuss the possibility with your child's therapist or psychiatrist, and with your child. If your child takes medication during the school year, and this is his first time at a camp, it may not be a good time to take a drug holiday, even if you normally do so in the summer. If the main reason for taking medication is to improve concentration at school, it's probably not necessary. But if his ADHD causes behavioral problems, taking his medication will probably help the camp experience go more smoothly.
NOTE: This is one part of a series on ADHD Children and Summer Camp. The other parts include What Do ADHD Summer Camps Have to Offer and Selecting the Right Summer Camp for Your ADHD Child.