Special Needs, Special Times
Joey and Steven Cohen
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:35AM
As regular readers likely know, my Joey’s special need is autism. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with new figures on autism: In the U.S., 1 in 88 children will now be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, including 1 in 54 boys. That’s up from previous estimates of 1 in 110. And according to The Autism Society of Illinois, it equates to a new diagnosis every 22 minutes and affects 29,000 children in Illinois alone.
In honor of all those who have already been diagnosed and those who are yet to be, we begin this edition of “Special Needs, Special Times” with The Autism Society. Based in Lombard, the society empowers individuals, families and the community who are impacted with autism spectrum disorders by providing education, advocacy and intervention.
Beginning June 25 and running through July 13, the organization is running Camp Red Kite. Led by a team of artists, administrators and special education teachers, the program is dedicated to creating a safe, welcoming and comfortable environment for children affected by autism. Its overarching aim is to foster a shared arts experience that encourages self-expression, social engagement, creative exploration and above all fun.
The Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) is another great organization that facilitates year-round recreation programs and services for children and adults with autism – and all disabilities — who live in the northern suburban area of Chicago. NSSRA offers more than 700 cultural, sport, social, physical, outdoor, trip and special event programs, which are conveniently available during the day, after school, in the evenings and on weekends.
One of the highlights of the Summer 2012 programming is Camp Hug the Bear, which begins July 30 and runs through August 17. Designed for children ages 2 to 8 who have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum or have sensory integration disorders, Camp Hug the Bear strives to provide participants with an opportunity to take part in a unique camp experience. Boasting a staff-to-camper ratio of 1:1, all staff members have experience working with children who have autism spectrum disorders or sensory integration disorders. Movement games, music, pretend play, sensory-based arts and crafts, and water play are just some of the included activities.
For kids of all ages (5 to 21), NSSRA is also concurrently running Awesome August Post Camp, which provides campers an extended summer experience with recreational activities. It stresses independence, motor development and an overall sense of well-being through participation in a wide variety of recreational pursuits. Campers enjoy sports, swimming, arts, crafts, outdoor activities, field trips and beach days.
If you would you like to see your organization’s activities and services described in our upcoming reports, please email your calendar of events and information to: firstname.lastname@example.org. As our column grows so will the ability to feature not-to-be missed special needs events.
You can find out what the organizations mentioned in this column have to offer and more by visiting their websites: http://www.autismillinois.org/ and http://www.nssra.org/