Summer camp seems like a right of passage for childhood, but isn’t always a great fit for all kids. Children with developmental disabilities — like ADHD and/or autism — often struggle with social interactions, anxiety, and being in an unfamiliar environment. There are summer camps designed specifically to offer a successful camp experience, and even growth and improvement, for kids with disabilities.

 

My family rafting with SOAR.

My family rafting with SOAR in 2012.

SOAR

For over 35 years, SOAR camps for kids with ADHD and learning disabilities have helped youth with learning differences develop self-confidence, social skills and life skills.

SOAR staff and instructors provide a community where campers are celebrated for their gifts, where they come to make friends, and where they have the freedom to be themselves. Everything they do at SOAR is based on helping campers experience success and providing them with the tools and strategies to continue building upon that success. Campers will develop self-confidence, life skills, and build friendships while experiencing a variety of exciting adventures.

We went to SOAR’s family weekend a few years ago and I was very impressed. Their staff is extremely knowledgable about ADHD and learning disabilities, and their mission is for their campers to leave with more self-confidence and life skills.

Summer Camp base is in Balsam, NC, but they have programs in a variety of US locations.

(828) 456-3435  |  www.soarnc.org

 

TALISMAN

Since 1980, Talisman’s ACA-accredited autism and Asperger’s camp programs have been offering unique alternatives to ordinary summer camps for kids ages 6-22 with autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, or learning disabilities. They provide a structured, nurturing environment within an exciting adventure program in which campers can have a successful summer while increasing social skills, a sense of personal responsibility, and a more positive self-image.

Summer camp is in Zirconia, NC.

(855) 588-8254  |  www.talismancamps.com

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CAMP LAKEY GAP

Camp Lakey Gap strives to nurture people with autism through an enriching camp experience and provide guardians with a time of respite. During a week at Camp Lakey Gap with 1:1 and 1:2 staff support, kids with autism develop strong social skills and self-esteem by experiencing success with peers, being empowered to take leadership roles, successfully trying new things, and being supported in a positive and loving environment.

Camp Lakey Gap is in Black Mountain, NC.

828-669-8977  |  www.christmount.org/camplakeygap/

 

More Camp Options

Those are the summer camps for kids with ADHD and/or autism in my area that I know something about. ADDitudeMag.com offers a great list of camps for kids with ADHD nationwide here: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-guide/adhd-camps-schools.html. As well, CampResource.com offers an inclusive list of US summer camps for kids with autism here: https://www.campresource.com/summer-camps/special-needs/autism-camps.

 

I really encourage you to look into a summer camp experience for your child. These camps offer more than just the traditional summer camp childhood experience. They offer a week or more with kids who are just like our kids — kids they can relate to and feel sameness with. They also work on lagging skills and self-confidence, which our kids really need. It’s an experience kids with ADHD and/or autism cannot get anywhere else (unless they’re lucky enough to attend a school for kids with special needs). Special needs camps are expensive, but many offer scholarships, so don’t let cost deter you from considering this experience for your child.

If your child has been to one of the camps mentioned here, or a different camp specifically for ADHD or autism, please let us know where and what the experience was like in the comments below. 

 

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