I’ve been keeping a low profile while juggling work and the Monster’s spring break, to be honest.
School vacations are always hard. It’s not just that the Monster has a disruption to his regular schedule, but that there’s a problem with finding something for him to be doing to keep him either from falling into bad habits, or the danger that with me having to work – even with my ability to work from home at times – that we’ll not pay enough attention and he’ll regress even more than he has during this year, not just academically but socially.
(In some twist of luck, spring break in Baltimore this year worked out to being during Passover. We actually do not have a single day this year where Passover overlaps with school. This would probably be even better if the Monster were a typical child and were observing with us… but he’s sufficiently fixed in his dietary habits (read: we’re not mucking with his eating when he’s making progress at the moment) for us to throw him by switching it up. The wife and I are all keeping Passover as best as we can in light of this (and R’s mostly keeping), but… you do what you have to.)
I was concerned that the Monster was going to have a hard time with a replacement for school this week. The JCC runs a “School’s Out” program, in which he’s been allowed to participate and in which they got a shadow for him, so he’s not getting lost in a larger group of NT kids. Remarkably enough, the JCC is not requiring him to be observing either, so the peanut butter sandwich he’d normally have for lunch is still going with him. (I love, for the record, that they are “nut aware but not nut free”, as opposed to the Early Childhood Education department.)
But he seems to be having a great time, and that’s what matters to me. I’ve not seen any art come home – I think they’re doing some art projects as part of the week – and he isn’t verbal enough to tell us what he’s been doing otherwise. But he is getting to go swimming every day, which he adores, and he’s certainly seeming to cope better with the difference in schedule than he would be with a lot of free time as a result of the break having hit. He’s even, apparently, drinking water from a drinking fountain, which is reassuring to us when he’s coming home with both of his juices untouched, but everything else gone from his lunch.
I have to say this for the JCC here in Baltimore – they bend over backwards in so many ways to make the Monster welcome both in their programs and in general. I hear a lot of horror stories from other parents in the local area, about finding programs for their children with special needs, to find things that let their kids at least have some kind of semblance of a ‘normal life’… and we’re very lucky to have the J’s programs. He’s been a camper at Camp Milldale for two years, and will be returning next summer, as part of a regular group, albeit with a shadow. They reach out to us to let us know when School’s Out is going to run and will be staffed to handle him. They have the fantastic “Sunday Funday” (among other programs) to work on his socialization and give him a chance to have fun activities. It’s been so different than I’d have imagined it would be, and they make it very easy.
So, the schedule this week is all well and good for now, but tomorrow’s his last day – the JCC is closed on Friday due to the end of Passover – and I’ll be taking off work to figure out something else to do with him…
Many years ago, I served as a unit head at Camp Milldale and I was instrumental in the development and creation of the special needs camp at this camp. Indeed, I served as the first director of this camp for several years. I am pleased to know that this camp still services children with special needs.
I actually never knew that! The camp does such a great job with integrating the kids, to be honest – I remember what “special needs camp” was like at the camp I used to be a counselor at, waaay back in the day, and it’s a world’s apart from what the Monster gets at Milldale.