Whenever I have the opportunity to speak with fellow Camp Directors who run camps designed for neurotypical children the topic often leads to discussing their campers who present with social-cognitive challenges. In other words, their campers who struggle socially in the camp setting.
Through my discussions with camp colleagues as well as professionals who work with children who present with social skill challenges I often hear that many parents are not interested in sending their child to a summer camp that is designed to meet their child's needs. In some cases the child may not want to go to a camp designed to meet their needs as they understandably want to see themselves as no different than their neurotypical peers despite the fact that they are frequently met with rejection from the same peers who's acceptance they crave. While these parents know there is a risk their child may be unsuccessful in the camp setting they believe that the best way for their child to improve their social skills and provide their child with a feeling of normalcy is through having their child participate in recreational settings (like summer camp) with their neurotypical peers. Often this well intended approach backfires for the child, particularly as they get older and social expectations increase. This led me to question as to where this widely held misconception comes from that children who present with social skill challenges can improve their social skills by simply being around neurotypical peers. Read the rest of this entry →