Camping with Autism

Discussion in 'Camping for the Medically/Physically Challenged' started by TheMillers, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. TheMillers

    TheMillers New Member

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    My son is 5 years old and has autism. We're very lucky because he is very high functioning, but he does tend to get a little overwhelmed when he's not in a familiar environment.

    We bought our pup because we thought traveling would be easier for DS if we had a familiar place to come back to every day. This way, even though we're in a different place often, he always has his own bed with his own linens. There will be something very familiar to him for the whole trip.

    Does anyone else on this board have a child with autism? If so, how has camping been for you?

    ____________________________________

    Amy

    DH-Dan, DSS-Zach (19), DS - Kaden (5)
    2009 Rockwood Premier 1907
     
  2. KateTheKamper

    KateTheKamper Member

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    Hi Amy ~ Good for you for trying to work within your DS's "constraints".

    My step-son has something similar to Fragile X Syndrome and when he was younger (5 - 7 years old), he demonstrated many symptoms of Autism. He's 32 now but we went camping with him several times when he was younger, and learned that we simply needed to keep an eye on him. He adapted easily and quickly to camping life and was content to sit in a camp chair most of the time and watch the world go by.

    I wish you well and hope that your DS enjoys every minute of your camping experiences.

    All the best ~

    Kate
     
  3. NorthernCamper

    NorthernCamper New Member

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    Amy,

    My 3 year old is also a high functioning Autistic. The issue with new places is pretty tough as for my son, it's a sometimes thing.

    We went to look at the PUP... and to my joy, he jumped right in and had no problem in the PUP. Pretty much the deal right there for me <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile">

    What he doesn't do well, is travel long distances (especially on a plane). So we figure the PUP would be good... lots of "breaks" with many potential short distances.

    True test comes next month during May long weekend. We'll see how he does. *fingers crossed*

    '73 - Me, '74 - DW, '01 - DS, '04 - DS, '06 - DS
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> - '09 Ridgeline, <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> - '08 Fleetwood Utah.
     
  4. TheMillers

    TheMillers New Member

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    Kaden jumped right in the pup too! I thought he would like it when we went to look at them, so we took him along. When I told him we bought a camper, he had the biggest smile.

    Since we've brought the camper home, we've camped in the yard twice. He loves that he has his own bed and insists on being in the pup every moment it's open.

    He always talked about having a tea party, and so we bought him a tea set for the pup, and now we have tea parties all the time out there, lol.

    Some would say it's odd for a boy to have tea parties, but it encourages social skills, exchange of dialogue, and manners. To heck with what people think!

    ____________________________________

    Amy

    DH-Dan, DSS-Zach (19), DS - Kaden (5)
    2009 Rockwood Premier 1907
     
  5. freepopup

    freepopup New Member

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    My Son has asbergers syndrome I took him last year and he loved it. The trick was to mimic home routine as much as possible as far as bed time food and the like. Also camp driveway helped now if the camper is up he wants in. The only real trouble I had is when he woke up wet and out of his sack he freaked out. He screamed so much someone called the park rangers who when they showed up I just explained the situation to them and all was well. He also woke up at the crack of dawn and took off to the play ground on his own so make sure you put a door alarm on the door of the camper so you know he cant get past you.
    Good luck and go with the flow.

    1996 GMC Jimmy <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> 1983 Coleman <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp">
    1 wife <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile"> 2 kids <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile"> <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile">
     
  6. PikevillePanther

    PikevillePanther New Member

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    Our son is mentally handicapped and loves to go camping. We just keep a close eye on him and have not had any problems so far.

    We usually wait until summer so the boys can swim all day and are worn out when it's bedtime.

    http://community.webshots.com/album/562846469qCNobE
     
  7. NorthernCamper

    NorthernCamper New Member

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    Amy,

    One of the things I'm one day looking forward to (hope?) is that DS starts to talk.

    Don't let anyone say boo about the tea party thing. If it's something that's good for him go for it...

    Here's hoping camping stays that way.

    Freepopup -- better not let my DW read your post or I'll have to figure out a way to pad lock the front door <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile">

    Desperately waiting for Mother Nature to give me a break so DS can enjoy the camper.

    Though my biggest fear (as he's not exactly a stationary sleeper) is that he right to the side of the canvas... Hopefully the bungee holds him in... <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_big.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Big Smile">

    '73 - Me, '74 - DW, '01 - DS, '04 - DS, '06 - DS
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> - '09 Ridgeline, <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> - '08 Fleetwood Utah.
     
  8. freepopup

    freepopup New Member

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    Hey Northern camper we have the front doors chained and locked. I also set my alarm when I go to bed or leave early for work so my Wife knows if he opens one of the doors. when we went to Lake George he slept in a bed for the first time (no crib) I woke to find him gone. I looked all over the place for him and was just about to call the cops as we were 50ft from the lake. I found him hanging out on the dock with the fishermen who said he was there for two hours. So needless to say I got one of those lick em stick em door alarm so I could rest.

    1996 GMC Jimmy <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> 1983 Coleman <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp">
    1 wife <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile"> 2 kids <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile"> <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Smile">
     
  9. NorthernCamper

    NorthernCamper New Member

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    ughh...

    DS is just now figuring out doors... luckily right now he is in a "clingy" phase and won't walk without holding hands (will see how long that lasts).

    You do what you need to do... Whatever is needed to let yourself relax...

    '73 - Me, '74 - DW, '01 - DS, '04 - DS, '06 - DS
    <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_suv.gif border=0 align=middle alt="Tow Vehicle"> - '09 Ridgeline, <img src=../Images/icons/icon_smile_pu.gif border=0 align=middle alt="PopUp"> - '08 Fleetwood Utah.
     
  10. Tahoein Bunch

    Tahoein Bunch New Member

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    My son Has something like Asbergers, And anxiety over new situations asnd Crowds so we usally try keep our time at secluded campgrounds and with friends. He does really well for most of the time but sometimes he does not want to do anything he actually goes into shutdown mode and won't say a thing. we just try to support him and not change too many things at once.

    He's 15 and loves to be wherever we are, just no crowds or new buildings.

    Greg
     
  11. LynnAllen02

    LynnAllen02 Active Member

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    Someone else on these threads had a child with Autism, and they had a bracelet with his first name, campsite #, and their cell phone number on it, in case he wandered away...there was a myriad of suggestions for safe variable identification methods! If you want I will try to find it!

    My son is Mentally Retarded, Legally Blind, and has Cerebral Palsey. He hates tent camping, but popped right into the Pup and loves it! I think he hates that wavery 1/8" piece of nylon to negotiate to get inside! Likes the steps in, the bed off the ground and the dinette!

    And he loves the campgrounds, and spends most of the time outside with us, which I did not expect!

    Lynn
     
  12. NorthernCamper

    NorthernCamper New Member

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    Nice to know that everyone with special needs children seems to be able to go pup camping... or at least the perception of that... otherwise, why would you be on the forum [;)]

    The Autism (diagnosis anyway) is new to my family, as DS is just now 3. So any positive news about people being able to camp with their children just makes me feel better.

    Hats off to all...
     
  13. Pup_n_go

    Pup_n_go New Member

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    Hi !

    New to The Portal but thought I'd throw my hat in the ring. Our son has Fragile X Syndrome which among other symptoms, carries some autistic tendencies.
    We have camped pretty much every summer since he was born ( he's 16 now), tent camping no less. Other than a few occasions when he's become over stimulated due to too much going on around him, he's been fine. Caleb always looks forward to our camping trips and since we just bought our first PUP, he's already staked out his bed, much to the disapproval of his sister, and talks about the trailer all the time! [PU]
     
  14. cabinlady

    cabinlady Member

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    My two disabled sons love camping. As for the tea party--no harm in that. Both of them went through that phase and have great table manners now. My oldest can cook and my younger one is great at restaurants and cleaning up after himself. Just have fun! [A]
     
  15. Goldpickerdave

    Goldpickerdave New Member

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    I also have an Autistic son he is usually happy as long as he can watch movies he is affraid of dogs, cats and anything else that travels on all fours. we have a popup our first so going to try to rig it so we can have a tv vcr/dvd combo unit for him last time we went he ran the car battey down watching DVD's in the car.
    Also the braclet is a good idea we have one of the medical alert ones for my son but I think if we go camping I will make make bunch of irons with his name, our cell number and that he is autistic it is easier for someont to see it written on a shirt then on a braclet not to mention when ever I see somthing on a shirt I read it. the Iron ons can be printed in any printer to so it is pretty cool.
    I also make sure and put on sunscreen in the morning and bug repellent.
    oh the last thing we did that made life more fun camping for my son was to get a Standard Bedside Commodes (http://www.medicalproductsdirect.com/commodes1.html) he had trouble balancing on the camping ones along with the commode we got a privacy tent at walmart that we use as the bathroom his way of dealing with stress is hiding in a bathroom so this made it easier for him. God bless all of these wonderful children we have been intrusted to takecare of I hope that everyone out their has a fun and happy camping season
     
  16. LynnAllen02

    LynnAllen02 Active Member

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    If you are making the bracelet yourself, put the Campsite # on it...if the cell doesn't work they can find you!

    I think a Pup is great for the Autistic because even though your surroundings are different the Pup is a familiar and safe place...if he enjoys camping he will tolerate more...

    Several Autistic children are in my son's swim class...the Y has high ceilings...noise level is horrendous...bright lights in ceiling...and they do amazingly well because they love the swimming so much. I think!

    Lynn
     
  17. dcj070454

    dcj070454 New Member

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    I am not by any means an expert, but having dealt with children with autism, do the easy thing. Easy on you and them, especially the child. Take them on a short road trip, and keep them where they can see familiar sites and sounds. Go back home, again a familiar site, and set up and do driveway camping. If you have a child with autism, it does not take much to trip there trigger, so everything has to be done a bit at the time. They get so adjusted to THERE day to day reality. Campfires and noises can be hard on any kid, hell for adults at that matter. If they like certain music or movies, hook them up with a portable DVD/CD player. I could ramble for hours on this subject.
     
  18. sandyaker

    sandyaker Rock Hill, SC

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    Can't speak on the subject from the view of a parent but I've worked with all sorts of people with disabilities for 25 years.

    I actually work in the therapeutic recreation field and I can't tell you how many great camping trips I've had with my folks. Some of my best camping memories are from trips while I was "working." (Kind of grand to get paid to go camping! [:D])

    As far as children or even adults with Autism (or any other disability) going camping....TOTALLY DO IT! I have a couple of guys with Autism that go on some of our trips and they LOVE it. At first we were not sure how everyone would do so we kept the trips short and close to home. After a couple of trips were under our belts we started going all over the Carolinas. I really don't make any major changes when I go camping with them as compared to when I'm camping on my own. About the only things that I notice is that I may have to explain stuff every once in a while and I keep a closer eye on everyone. I'm actually surprised every trip how much they all enjoy it . I've even been surprised lately as to how much they all what to learn about all of the equipment and how it is set up. A few of my guys are now able to set up their own sites by themselves. This is something I would not have thought these guys would be interested in or even capable of doing. Just goes to show you that you should never underestimate anyone.

    Have camping!
    Scott
     
  19. geekgurl64

    geekgurl64 Member

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    I have a 10 year old son with Aspergers Syndrome. We haven't taken him camping yet. On our first tent camping trip (still looking for a PUP), he stayed home with DH and would come up during the day for fun and dinner. He was OK when coming up and swimming and doing S'mores. I am also interested in this question too!
     
  20. BJ

    BJ New Member

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    My 10 year old son has High Functioning Autism. Last year we got a pup thinking that having familiar surroundings would help him in a new place, he also has huge eating issues which makes it hard for us to eat out. He is also very anxious about bugs & insects.

    When we first got the trailer we set it up at home and he got familiar with it. He was very excited about it.

    We are now well into our second year of camping and he loves it. If he is overwhelmed by the new surroundings he has a familiar place to retreat to. And we can relatively easily accommodate his eating needs. He can choose to be inside if he wants but we try and encourage him to be outside as much as he can manage. It often takes him a few days to settle in so we have found that longer stays are actually better.

    As in our everyday life there are times when it is not easy for him (or us) - however on the whole we get a great family vacation. We have never regretted the investment we made in our pup.
     

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