Monday, August 8, 2011

Kinder Camp

This past weekend Tom and I went OUT OF TOWN - with NO kids!  Crazy stuff!  We went to Pittsburgh for Tom's 20th reunion.  I have some pictures.  But, will have to post them later.  So, I'll save that whole post for tomorrow.

Right now I want to tell you about today.

You might remember back a few months ago, Jennifer and I camped out in 30 degree temperatures to get Harlie and her daughter into a 2-week camp through our county.  Well, today was the first day.  And I vaguely remember when we were sitting there registering her for camp (frozen from the night's camp-out) seeing a question on the form about special needs or disabilities.  I don't remember what I checked.  But I do remember (I'm really not making myself look good here) thinking (okay - being afraid) that if I wrote too much about her that they wouldn't let her attend camp.  Which, is a really stupid thing to think when dealing with the county, considering they can't discriminate.  But that's what I thought.  And still thought in the back of my mind this morning on our way there.  I was actually a tad bit nervous to tell you the truth.

But, the dropping off actually went a little better than I expected.  Harlie went and sat on the carpet to play with puzzles with the other kids.  And I completed some form about who can pick her up (which totally doesn't apply when your nurse is with you, but whatever).  When I was done I went over to Harlie and told her (and signed) to have fun.  A camp staff person came over and sat down in front of Harlie and asked me how to sign "hi".  So cute.  I told her she could just wave and tell her.  I also explained that she can hear her, she just can't talk.  Then I put Harlie's communication device in front of her and asked her to tell the counselor her name.  Of course to make her do it, I had to take away the puzzle she was playing with.  It seems we do a lot of "bribing" to get her to cooperate.  But, she did.  The class was a bit loud, so it was hard to hear her device over everything.  Which reminds me, I have a TON to tell you about the device and what's going on with that.  But that will have to be in a separate post.

Anyway, I was pretty impressed that the camp counselor immediately took an interest in Harlie and wanted to communicate with her.  It was also cute that as soon as I put her device in front of her a few kids came over and sat down to see what that was all about.  Another perk to the device - kids might be more interested in her and less afraid.

Then I told her and another counselor that Brandy was there and would be staying for her medical needs, so please treat her as they would any other child.  Then I left.

So, back when I was filling out that form about who can pick her up, I heard some bits of a conversation going on behind me.  A counselor was trying to call her supervisor.  Someone wanted to ask the counselor something and she replied that she needed to call her supervisor immediately.  This was before I went over to Harlie on the carpet.  And before I had a chance to talk to a counselor at all.  And in the back of my mind I wondered if the counselor was calling her supervisor because of Harlie.  I can only imagine what they were thinking.

Anyway, so I pick them up and all went well.  Brandy said they asked a lot of questions.  Harlie played just fine and didn't push or hit anyone.  Small victories.  Although she refused to participate in Musical Chairs.  I don't know if she's ever played, or not.  But she preferred to go look at a book quietly to herself.

A few hours later I got a call from the supervisor.  Needless to say, I wasn't surprised.   And for a second I felt like I was in trouble and what if she was going to tell me to not bring her back?  But, she was really nice and asked me what they could do to make this experience better for Harlie.  Wow.  Now that surprised me.  To be honest, I couldn't really answer her question.  Because I don't know.  I just want her to have a good time and be like a regular kid.  Then she told me that I could have requested a therapeutic assistant for her and they would have provided someone to be one-on-one with her and help her with whatever she needed, like communication. But, I didn't know that.  So, it's too late.  Oh well.

The supervisor also said that she spoke with the counselors after camp today and they said that Harlie participated just fine in most activities.  So that's good.  Then she said that she is going to come to camp tomorrow to observe and see if she can think of anything that would help her.

I started to be a little upset with myself that I didn't look into help for her, but then I realized that I signed her up in March for the camp, and that was before this whole "intensive speech therapy on the device" thing.  So, I wouldn't have thought of it then anyway.  But, it would have been so cool to have someone who could go around with her making her talk on her talker.  What a great environment to do that in, considering it's so similar to school.

So, we'll see how tomorrow goes.  Now I'm kinda anxious to see what the supervisor thinks.  Okay, must stop writing tonight.  I am totally falling asleep.  And won't proof it, so forgive my mistakes and/or typos!  Thanks!

More tomorrow!  Thanks for reading!


Sandy said...

How wonderful that they are going out of their way to make this a positive experience for both Harlie and you!!!

Susan said...

I understand your thinking. I'm glad it worked out and really since she has the nurse with her would you really want a second adult with her the whole time? If you haven't yet, you should teach your nurse how to facilitate use of the AAC. Can't wait to hear more about that. We are still using the Vantage and waiting for the new one.

Hooray for a weekend alone. I'm glad you had a good time.