Yesterday Andrew started up another summer camp. He was in a computer camp that latest a week and now he’s going to the YMCA for crafts and field trips and swim lessons. Other kids in his class signed up to go and it seemed more fun for him to hang out there for a few weeks than hang out here. So, off he went!
I thought after a week at the fancy computer camp, the YMCA would seem like a dud. I mean…they don’t even meet at a real Y. They meet in a school. It’s extremely low tech and no one is passing out flashdrives and teaching kids how to use the latest software.
But…turns out…this YMCA camp has brought some unexpected benefits already.
See, Andrew is in the Special Needs section of the YMCA. I wasn’t sure if he *needed* to be in the Special Needs camp, or if he could hack it with the regular kids…but I felt a lot more comfortable with the camper to counselor ratio with the Special Needs camp…and we knew some other people from his school program who were going to be there. So…I signed him up!
He must have overheard me telling other people about it because one day he told me that he hopes he meet other autistic kids at the Y. I was shocked that he mentioned that…though…of course it does make sense. :) Then he rattled off a list of possible kids he might meet in the Special Needs camp…blind kids and deaf kids and lots and lots of kids in wheelchairs! He was psyched at the range of possibilities. I went about tempering his enthusiasm with “you probably won’t be able to tell what makes each of those campers “special”. They’ll mostly seem like regular kids, like you and Isaac.”
Then I started to worry that Andrew would take it upon himself to poll the other campers on their disabilities. He’s not really one to play it cool. Sigh.
So, yesterday when the bus dropped him off (Special Needs camp includes bussing! sweet!), I asked the counselor how it went. She said that he did ask her if all the kids were autistic…and she said “all of the kids in this camp are very special!” He told her “I’m autistic!” and she said “That’s great!”
Later he told me all about his new friend that uses a wheelchair! Andrew was VERY excited about helping with the lifts and ramps and elevators and all the mechanics involved…but I’m hoping the mobility mechanics can be a bridge to a real friendship with this new little boy… and that Andrew’s not just in it for the gadgetry. Though, the new friend does love minecraft…so there’s that too. :)
Andrew’s experience so far has made me think about how lucky Andrew is to have this pass into the Special Needs community because of his membership in it. He gets to meet and interact with all kinds of people. The range of kids he knows is MUCH more diverse than the kids I knew growing up. Also, I’m not usually that big on integration…I feel too protective of Special Needs kids to fight for them to be integrated into regular settings…but hearing Andrew talk about the different kids at the Special Needs Y made me grateful that all these kids are getting exposed to each other. It sort of made me wish we all could get exposed to all kinds of people. Maybe integration IS worth rethinking.
This morning Andrew told me that he was glad that he was going to the Special Needs camp and when I asked why he just said “I just like it.” :)
While Andrew was at camp, Isaac and I made a peach pie! Well…mostly I made it. And it is delicious! :)