I was chatting with a co-worker of mine last week about her plans for her soon to be first grader this summer. She was talking about the variety of camp options there are, but how expensive they are and how the part-day hours are not compatible with those of a working parent. I empathized with her, but started to panic a bit about what kind of care we’ll have to find for Max next summer when he’s no longer in child care. I’m not sure that the choices typically open to 5-6 year olds will be the right choice for him. He tends to overheat, so I’m not sure a traditional day camp where he’ll be outside all day will be the right fit. Anywhere where they swim is going to require a second thought because counselors need to be extra diligent because of his epilepsy (not that they shouldn’t watch other kids just as closely). Some kind of half-day program won’t work well with my work hours, and hiring a nanny, while an attractive option, worries me because I work from home. I’m not sure I’d be able to tune them out all day. (As a side note, are there other work from home parents who have nannies in their homes while they work? If so, I’d love to hear how it works for you.)
I think we’re just going to have to take a leap and consider our options just as we would for Ben, our “typical” child. Just as we are with school next year (having Max ride the bus vs. driving him, participating in the YMCA after-school program with little to no structure), we’re going to have to trust that Max can handle it before ruling things out without knowing otherwise. We’re also going to have to be diligent and observant and make sure this new independence is working to help him, not working against him. This whole thought process has really opened my eyes to how much I’ve been trying to protect Max and how much I need to let him spread his wings a bit more.
I wonder what others with children who have moderate special needs do. What kind of after-school or summer programs have worked well for your children?