Each year, millions of children eagerly look forward to summer camp, where they can play freely, make friends, and be themselves. Parents of children with ADHD want the same opportunity for their children, but may worry about them fitting in and finding success. They may also feel their child needs to spend the summer focused on skill-building. Happily, the right camp can provide both great memories and strengthened skills for managing ADHD.
Children with ADHD work hard in school to stay focused and still for hours at a time. They struggle to attend to low-interest activities (like lectures) and manage structured social situations. With recess rare, they have to contain their energy for the entire school day.
The ideal environment for the child with ADHD allows lots of movement, with high interest activities and clear but simple boundaries – as well as peers and staff who understand and appreciate them. Sound like summer camp? A great camp provides all of these, including specially-trained staff who help campers navigate friendship-building, problem-solving and decision-making along the way.
Camps for kids with ADHD know the benefit of a full day of physical activity: it aids with focus, lowers anxiety, and promotes healthy appetites and sleep, which sometimes have been thrown off by medication. Campers are more likely to participate in activities if they are exciting, intriguing or novel. That elevated interest also keeps them focused and on-task. Camps offer experiences not found at home or school, ones that campers are eager to try and willing to work for, thus they are their own reward, which also helps kids with ADHD stay engaged.
When a child with ADHD is able to stick with an activity and master a skill – or achieve a cooperative goal, like setting up a tent, building a robot or performing a skit – their self-esteem increases as they realize success. Camps for kids with ADHD offer the opportunities and guidance to allow these successes over and over each day. The cumulative result is more self-confidence and less anxiety about trying new things.
A recent study evaluating the effectiveness of summer camp for children with ADHD (including social skills training and parent education) found improvement in ADHD symptoms, peer relationships, and overall functioning, as compared with similar children who did not attend camp (Hantson et al, 2011). Pairing the elements of a great summer camp with the expertise of trained staff can provide a valuable growth experience for the child with ADHD.
The authors of this study evaluated the effectiveness of a 2-week therapeutic summer day camp for children with ADHD, which included a social skills training program and parent psychoeducation and training program. Through pre- and post-surveys they found improvement in ADHD symptoms, peer relationships, and overall functioning of children, as compared to a control group that did not attend the camp.
If you have a child with ADHD, you may want to look into the benefits of a therapeutic camp as an option for the summer months when he or she is out of school.
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Author Bio: Shawn is a passionate health blogger. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. Because of his passion toward writing and helping others, he started his career as a writer with Talisman Summer Camp where he now works as a content manager. He is a regular volunteer at the Hospital for Special Children. When he is not working or volunteering at the children’s hospital, he likes to go fishing with his father.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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