Tis the season for vacation bible schools, but just like any other activity targeted for the general youth, having your child with autism attend isn’t quite as easy as just sign them up and drop them off. Like most everything else in our lives, some additional effort is generally needed. But I am here to say that we have thankfully found a local vacation bible school that works so well with our boys and we just finished our second successful year with them attending.
We had allowed Delia to go on her own a few years before and the people at the program convinced us to sign the boys up last year too. With this being the second year for the boys, I was hopeful it would go smooth, but with how Damion’s recent summer camp experience went, I was still a bit worried about how he would do. Just as we had to do last year, we made sure to be careful of our words and only referred to the event as “bible study” as the word school does not go over well with Damion for any point during summer break. It took him a bit to warm back up to the event but past the initial drop off struggles, he did very well. I think it really helps that both his siblings are able to attend the event with him, and other than being a bit of a crazy kiddo, Drew warmed right up to the whole event with no issues.
We made sure to talk through the basic schedule with Damion, hit the highlights for him such as get cookies and juice, and remind him that I would be back to pick him up. The event was just set for 4 nights in a row, at just a little over two hours each night. A much shorter time frame than that of summer camp which I’m sure played a part in everything going so much smoother. I started the week off by counting down the event saying he had 4 days of bible study. This trick seemed to work well to help him as the week went on. His participation is not quite that of the others kids there, even his younger autistic brother, but he did well staying seated and watching some of the other kids do activities none the less.
Just as with everything else we want the boys to participate in, we always notify the people running the event ahead of time that our boys are on the spectrum and may require some additional support. They assured me that they had it handled. I imagine some places are more equipped than others to do this, but when we find a place that we know we can allow our boys to attend, especially a place that does not require us to stay for the full time as well, it feels like a bit of a blessing.
He warmed up quickly to his helper for the week. She was a wonderful woman named Sue that baked chocolate chip cookies special for some of the days, just because she knew my boys would like them. We ran into a bit of a hiccup the final evening as we waited at drop of and Damion kept saying “Wait for zoo”. It took me a minute to realize he was talking about Sue. I asked one of the coordinators and found out that she was not coming that night. I thought for sure that would be a deal breaker for Damion, but we were able to talk through it, he met another friend, and finished out the evening great.
Drop off event such as this have never been easy for us. It is nice to find a place that can be accommodating, a place that makes sure that they have the extra supports in place so that my boys can attend just like all the other kids. My boys may or may not play all the games, sing all the songs, or want to get on stage, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy getting to come. So, thank you to our local Rosewood Community Church. Having the support in place to help our boys feel comfortable in attending means more to this mom than you will know. We have enjoyed your vacation bible school for multiple years now and we hope that we can keep attending your wonderful event for many more years to come!