5 Summer Safety Tips

Keeping a child with autism safe is a full time job for caregivers.  When summer arrives, a whole new list of things to worry about pops up: New babysitter, new routines, camp, pools, playgrounds, and the ever popular Ice Cream Truck.

Here are 5 tips on keeping your child with autism safe this summer:

  1. Talk to Your “New” Neighbors: It’s safe to assume your neighbors already know about your child. But what if you rent a cottage or beach house on vacation this summer?  Go over to talk to those “new” neighbors. Give them a handout with a picture of your child and emergency contact information.  You may also want to describe your child’s fears and effective ways to approach, communicate and calm your child. Ask them to contact you immediately if they see a child wandering away without supervision. Take note of your surroundings: Does the cottage next door have a hot tub or a swing set?  These are potential places your child might be found.
  2. Stress the Need for Constant Supervision to New Babysitters: Make sure any new caregiver or babysitter understands that your child will wander away and needs supervision at all times while playing, regardless if it’s inside or out.  Fairly innocent things can trigger an elopement: a new playground, a fire engine driving by, or perhaps the Ice Cream Truck just pulled up.  Children with autism will cross a street without looking both ways so the caregiver will definitely need to walk your child (regardless of his/her age) across the street to get that Popsicle. Consider buying a harness if the caregiver seems reluctant to take your child outside due to the possibility of wandering. Harnesses are a choice only the parent can make. Make sure you buy one that both you and your child are happy with.
  3. Special Diet Awareness: Speaking of Popsicles, alert any caregivers or camps of your child’s special diet such as gluten free.  Fridge locks are also a good idea. If unsupervised for even a short time, a child could potentially eat something out of the refrigerator that could make them sick, such as raw food. A fridge lock would prevent that from happening. And just to be safe, have the Poison Control Emergency Number (1-800-222-1222) posted throughout the house in places where it cannot be easily removed or misplaced. Your child could ingest anything from aluminum foil to baby powder and Poison Control can help any panicky caregiver.
  4. Teach Swimming at an Early Age: People with autism are drawn to water sources such as pools, ponds and lakes.  Statistics show that accidental drowning is the leading cause of death for autistic children and adults.  Swimming lessons could prove to be invaluable. However, small children can tire easily so even if they know how to swim they may not be able to do it for very long.  Assist child in and out of the pool. If the choice were theirs, they would just walk straight into the deep end. See tip #2 about constant supervision!!
  5. Consider a Personal Tracking Device:  A Radio Frequency (RF) device, such as SafetyNet, is ideal for people at risk of wandering, because it has strong signals that can penetrate any physical obstruction.  With an RF device, you child can be found in places that a GPS or cellular product cannot reach, such as in a wooded area or concrete building. And it’s waterproof!

Autism-Summer: Ohio Buckeyes teach children with autism football skills | NBC 4i

GROVE CITY, Ohio — Though most football camps are already over, there was just one more in Grove City for a very unique group of young athletes.

High School players as well as Buckeyes past and present shared the football experience with children with Autism.

The young players got to suit up in pads and helmets. They were eager to learn the basics of football including ball carry, how to be a quarterback, running back and defensive stations.

The children got to learn from all star coaches from the NFL and former Buckeye players.

via All-Star Coaches Teach Children With Autism Football Skills | NBC 4i.

Autism Summer: Inclusion’s the game at Camp Shriver in Boston

Some autism summer camps are for autistic children only. Some, like Camp Shriver in Boston, mix kids with and without autism and other disabilities.

Forty-plus years ago, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver started an inclusive camp in her backyard. It grew into the Special Olympics!

At Camp Shriver everyone fits in – even the Kennedys .

“Everyone treats us the same,” said Kyra Kennedy, 14, the granddaughter of Robert F. and daughter of Robert F. Jr. “It was nice.”

Kyra was one of three Kennedy family offspring working this summer at the sports camp at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, a spinoff of the one started in 1962 by Kennedy’s great-aunt Eunice Kennedy Shriver, to serve children both with and without disabilities. Eunice and Francesca “Chessy” Shriver, Eunice Shiver’s granddaughters, also spent their July on the Boston campus.

via Inclusion’s the game at Shriver camp – BostonHerald.com.

Summer Autism: Puppy camp lets autistic children learn about dogs

Children with autism often make a connection with animals – especially dogs. A camp near Rochester, N.Y., lets children with autism and other developmental disabilities, as well as neurotypical children, learn about brand new puppies. The camp is run by a married couple who breed Labrador retrievers, and the wife in that couple is an autism specialist at a local school district.

SPENCERPORT — Lauren Erlichman and Martin Yesowitch might not have spent their wedding anniversary how they expected this year, but the date was memorable nonetheless.

The Canal Road couple, who tied the knot on July 7, 2007, breeds Labrador retrievers. Their canine companions made sure their anniversary was extra special — and numerically aligned.

“We had our litter this week — seven puppies on 7/7,” Yesowitch says. That was just days after helping their 4-year-old dog, Macie, deliver her pups. “We got married on 7/7/07, and we had seven puppies on the 7th with our first puppy.”

That’s pretty amazing. Then again, so is the work that Erlichman and Yesowitch do.

For the second year, the couple is running the Labs of Love Puppy Camp for children ages 7 to 15. Kids learn about training and feeding dogs, as well as health issues, caring for the animals and running a kennel.

Some children learn even more valuable lessons.

Many kids in the week-long sessions have developmental disabilities such as autism, and Erlichman, an autism specialist with the Spencerport Central School District, said the puppies help those children socialize and become more confident.

“Animals speak a non-verbal language with people,” Erlichman says, paraphrasing Temple Grandin, a noted author and speaker who has autism and whose life story was detailed in an HBO movie named for her.

“There’s no talking back. They’re more in control,” she said.

via It’s pure puppy love at Spencerport summer camp | democratandchronicle.com | Democrat and Chronicle.

Middle school student with Down syndrome to lead Buddy Walk in memory of camp counselors

Garden City, N.Y., seventh-grader Matthew Castellano will lead The National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk Sept. 25 that starts in New York’s Central Park. He’ll be with NDSS Ambassador John C. McGinley (from TV’s “Scrubs”), Chris Burke (from “Life Goes On), and others.

Matthew attends Camp Anchor, a Long Island town camp for youths and adults with a wide range of disabilities. Every camper at Camp Anchor (which stands for Answering the Needs of Citizens with Handicaps through Organized Recreation) has an individual counselor. Three young Anchor Camp counselors were killed in a car crash on their way to work July 15 — and Matthew and his group will be walking for them in the Buddy Walk.

Matthew and his group hope to raise $3,000 in the Buddy Walk.

The NDSS (National Down Syndrome Society) has chosen Matthew Castellano, to be this year’s “Self-Advocate Ambassador” for the New York City “Buddy Walk” in Central Park. Matthew is a 7th grader at the Garden City Middle School and attends Camp Anchor in Lido Beach, NY. Matthew and his team will be walking for his beloved camp Anchor staff counselors, Michael Mulhall, Jamie Malone and Paige Malone who were in a fatal car accident on July 15th, 2010 on their way to Camp Anchor. He will lead the walk along with celebrities, John C. McGinley from the TV show “Scrubs,” Chris Burke from the former TV show “Life Goes On” and several others. Together they will salute the amazing event participants who have raised money and awareness in support of individuals with Down Syndrome.

Help kickoff the NYC Buddy Walk in Times Square where 200 photos of individuals with Down Syndrome from all over the world were selected from thousands of photo submissions for the 2010 NDSS Times Square Video. The Times Square Video will be shown on the “MTV Plasma Screen.” NDSS will provide transportation from Times Square to the NYC Buddy Walk site at “The Great Hill” in Central Park.

via Middle School Student To Be “Self Advocate Ambassador” | www.gcnews.com | Garden City News.

Autism in Summer: For some, it’s time for camp

For a lot of kids, summertime means summer camp. In recent years, more children with autism have been getting in on the summer camp fun.

There are a variety of autism camps being held this summer. In Florida, Joey Travolta, (brother of John Travolta) runs a film camp for children with autism.

In North Carolina, Funshine Camp lets children and adults with autism and other disabilities enjoy the outdoors for four days at no cost (they bring caregivers).

In Wisconsin, the organizers at Camp Awesum say they try to provide a traditional summer camp experience but accommodate the needs of autistic children with things like special sensory areas.

My Summer Camps, a directory of summer camps around the country, has a list of camps for children and teenagers with autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

Here is Spirit of Autism’s list of questions to ask when looking at summer camps for your autistic child.

Is your child at camp this summer? How’s it going? Any tips to share on making the transition to camp?