Every morning this past week I pulled up bright and early to the Monmouth County Therapeutic Recreation Camp at the Dorbrook Recreation Area in Colts Neck with Justin in tow, bouncing back and forth in my backseat rocking out to the 80’s (my kid has good taste). Each morning this week I got him and all of his paraphernalia out of my car, and escorted him to an open field where people with disabilities of all ages, even some elderly, were doing calisthenics on their ample lawn, many with smiles on their faces. Every morning I passed Justin off to his wonderful side (provided through PerformCare), kissed him goodbye, and headed back to my car.
Each day my fingers were crossed.
This is the third year Justin has attended this camp. His first year went spectacularly, and he truly seemed to enjoy the activities. Last summer was much more of a challenge. He had a wonderful aide, but even with a one-on-one I had to pick him up early several days for behaviors, which wasn’t a surprise given how much he struggled last year. This year, after things got better for him last fall, was a throwback to his first year.
And I can’t tell you how grateful I am.
Truth be told if Justin couldn’t handle camp he’d be back in school in two weeks, but those two weeks would be somewhat challenging logistically. This year my youngest is in school the first week, but the second he’s not, hence the challenge. It is still really difficult for me to take both of them somewhere by myself, as Justin often wants to leave the venue early, and Zach does not. Plus to tell you the truth, bad weather precludes us going anywhere anyway, and at least at camp there are multiple diversions for Justin.
My boy lies to get out.
But there’s a bigger reason why I’m so grateful he’s had a great week, and I’m hopeful that his second camp will mirror this one. Justin is graduating in five years, and it is my greatest hope (honest to God) that my son will be able to handle a day program so he’s not stuck in the house with me for, well, decades.
Simply told, I am just not that fun anymore.
Justin is a creature of habit, however once he’s “done something once” it becomes part of his routine, and he is generally amenable to the activity or venue. Giving him the opportunity to try new things will be instrumental in helping him acclimate to a day program after fourteen years at his beloved school. He needs new experiences to help him handle what’s coming down the road. He also needs to have his own life, and not just be reliant on me to do things and have fun.
Amen to that.
So I am grateful we’re back to square one, and hopeful this new camp will work out too (they do sleepovers!) so please keep your fingers crossed for us.
And for all those autism families out there, remember once in a while to take a chance.
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