A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about my stress of being prepared for your “ever-so-need-for-structure” life during the summer.
It was rough.
You were irritable almost immediately, distant, and seemed to be reverting to making noises or grabbing my hand to assist you, instead of using the language I knew you had.
It was almost as if you were uncomfortable in your own skin, and it was making all of us sad. That usual infectious smile you adorn, was lost and I needed to do whatever I could to find it!
I began feverishly researching for any special needs or sensory friendly activities in our area.
Let me tell ya Addie, it’s slim pickins.
Remember there was that one place that said I should have called back in January? For summer camp! January!? Well, we missed that one. I'm envious of anyone that can plan that far ahead.
Fact of the matter is my life is so consumed with staying one step ahead of you, that I really felt like I let you down this time.
Predictability and structure are your recipe for happiness. You like to know what to expect = less anxiety. You just function better with a schedule, as compared to the "fancy free" summer that Clara and Gabe enjoy.
Expressing my frustration to a fellow autism mommy (side note: she’s your swim instructor, amazing and sure to be another blog one day;), she suggested a camp called 3 Irish Jewels Farm Camp for autistic kids like yourself.
I did a quick google search (God bless smart phones!) and A.) The founder has a child with severe autism, so she knows what's up! B.) I loved everything about their mission and facility & C.) It was literally 5 minutes from our home!
This was perfect! I mean really, what a God wink.
I said a prayer that they would have an opening, and wasted no time contacting them!
Much to my surprise, we received an immediate response and invitation to come in and take a peek at a current "Blue Bird's Camp" session.
It was amazing!
A whole facility for you to learn through social play, continue to develop play skills, all while also gaining valuable life skills in a loving and judgment free atmosphere.
Erin, the owner/founder, fellow autism mommy and mother of 3, was everything I had imagined and much more. She truly wears her heart out there for all to see. She speaks passionately about her journey, her camp, and the future she envisions it to be. A beautiful blessing and voice for our autism community.
Miss Andrea, the Camp Director, simply radiates positivity and joy! I can tell you from firsthand experience - when she speaks of you to me it's as if you’re the most amazing human that has graced this planet (which is quite nice for a parent to hear and a pleasure to see others see you as we do).
She truly loves her campers and focuses on their positives, really strengthening their independence.
As for the volunteers, all are unbelievably engaged, patient, and kind. Simply the cream of the crop Addie.
Not gonna lie, I'm kinda glad I wasn't uber organized to have registered you back in January for the other camp (don't be mistaken I'm sure that one is awesome as well), because I feel we were meant to be right her. A blue bird, at the 3 Irish Jewels Farm Camp.
Best part about all this, you genuinely LOVE it! There’s no fighting to get you out the door or tears at drop off. You’ve welcomed this as your new routine and brought back your smile.
You see baby girl, At the end of the day, every parent wants their child to grow their independence and live a happy, healthy, and successful life!
Your mind is big on first impressions and I'm confident dad and I have been filed away as the ones who keep you safe and anticipate your needs.
The more opportunities where you must make choices away from daddy and I, the more independence you gain. One tiny step closer to our ultimate long-term goal for you.
While the present-day vision of this small camp is helping only school aged autistic children when their structured routines suddenly stop, T3IJF have some amazing long-term goals that I personally can’t wait to see become reality. With a planned residential farm community for autistic adults who have aged out of school services. Where they can really absorb the therapeutic benefits that have been studied and documented for years of work and life on a farm.
Yes, it's a small camp now, but Anita Roddick (the founder of a "once small" natural cosmetic company called The Body Shop) once said,
"If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito."
Big things are coming for this little camp Addie! I just know it!
Glad you're enjoying being part of this blue bird family.