Camping with Autism

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

  1. Crabbypatty

    Crabbypatty New Member

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    I’m just starting out camping with one of my children having low functioning autism. The set up for now is a friends farm until he warms up to camping.
     
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  2. J Starsky

    J Starsky Well-Known Member

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    We set it up for the girls to play in and get used to first. Then, we started with a couple nights in the driveway, over different weekends. We honesty feared a midnight escape runs across the yard. We installed a bungee that holds the door shut, followed up by a magnetic stick on type door alarm for peace of mind.

    My youngest is autistic - now a teenager running at 5 yo reading levels. She loves the PUP, and we still set it up as a play house, now that we've moved into the TT.

    Best story I can share:
    The cousins and her big sister had "moved in" on her TV in the PUP. Honest, probably their turn in all fairness.

    But, a little too much for her, so she went outside...and around the campers and unplugged the power cord!

    Now nobody is gonna use "my television" is what I could see her mind telling me. Problem solved in the land of Autism. SOLD!
     
  3. Crabbypatty

    Crabbypatty New Member

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    That’s our only fear is the breakout. Other than that he pitches a meltdown if he can’t sleep in the pup.
     
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  4. J Starsky

    J Starsky Well-Known Member

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    We have stick on alarms everywhere, double sided deadbolts at the house. All just cheap insurance. A bungee keep the door shut with another layer of security. I even thought about adding a pad lock - if I had a fire we're jumping thru the canvas anyways. But she never bailed out, so I kept at the level of security.
     
  5. Queenof3Boys

    Queenof3Boys New Member

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    My ASD son (9yo) is one of the reasons I got the pup. It's a familiar place, with a space just for him. We don't have all the electronics for my son anyway, but we don't bring anything for him to watch tv on, or play games. He loves going on walks and "exploring" our camp site, swimming, playing on a playground, and helping make the fire. He is a wanderer, so that is always a fear of mine. I LOVE the bracelet idea, I will definitely be using this in the future!
    Some problems we have are:
    -He doesn't play well with others, so we have to watch him around other children. My other two boys help with this.
    -He doesn't sleep well. We have meds for him, but he still only sleeps a couple hours.
    -He is not quiet. Ever. Echolalia, squeels, and screaming if he hurts himself.
    -He doesn't eat a variety of food, we've got to find "camping" food that he'll eat.
    -He REFUSES to use the bathrooms. He is just recently potty trained (yay!) but he will not use the campground bathrooms. He had several accidents last weekend because he tried to hold it.
    We have found the sweetest campers who don't mind his challenges. One man brought him back to us after he tripped and scraped his hand while walking with his brothers to the bathrooms. He calmed my son down, even.

    Trial and error, adjust and prepare. That's all we can do.
     
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  6. Crabbypatty

    Crabbypatty New Member

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    Our son which is 9 and his 2 older brothers and Mom decided to camp over the Holiday weekend. My wife and I decided to watch what he would do if he wandered or ran outside alone in the morning.

    On Sunday morning I heard the door to the camper and observed him sitting beside the fire pit watching the sun rise. We incorporated building a damn and catching aquatic life into the weekend.

    We plan on going camping this Weekend and will let them swim and wear themselves out. A local park is also close to where we camp.

    “Everyone adapts”
     
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  7. FamilyMank

    FamilyMank New Member

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    We have two autistic boys (and a strongly suspected autistic husband). We love camping! :) We just got back from our first weekend in our new to us pup! We used to tent camp until my joints got too bad. They loved it! We chose a site that was close to the office /store/bathhouse, the activities pavilion, and playground. They are 11 and 9, so we got to give them a little freedom, and it was awesome!
     
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  8. Crabbypatty

    Crabbypatty New Member

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    My youngest son is 8 and has low functioning autism.

    We just got back today from camping in Weiser State Forest.

    After setting up the camper my wife that gave me an hour head start to get the pup up before they arrived on site. The kicker was his 2 older brothers aged 9 & 10 respectively gathered wood for the fire pit and helped with setting everything with me. We had enough time to walk a mile trail before relaxing by the fire with everyone in toe.

    Saturday morning we had fruit and bagels for breakfast followed by a 5 mile hike. Took a break for lunch and then went swimming in a mountain stream until dinner. After dinner we went to a local block party. When we got back to camp everyone was pretty exhausted except for my Autistic son. I downloaded some chuggington from Netflix as a backup and a few movies.

    Today we broke camp down with the same team attitude and it went smoothly.

    I incorporated one thing from a previous post and used a bungee cord as an extra lock on the door.
    Another backup was 2 local parks for the children also if needed.

    We usually camp at the same place every time but we switched it up this time.
     
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  9. kojack

    kojack Member

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    Awesome thread here folks. I am not sure if I am allowed to post it, so I will ask first if I can post my blog page here for travelling with a family member on the austim spectrum. We have some articles up, but work, winter, and life got in the way this past little while. We are ramping up to give a full year of awesome content, tips, and travels to our readers. If it's ok to put our blog address up, just let me know here! thanks!

    Steve, Kelly and Colin!
     
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  10. J Starsky

    J Starsky Well-Known Member

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    I think you could make a separate post about it. Thanks for thinking to share [:I]
     
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  11. hq308

    hq308 Active Member

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    I would think it would be more than OK as it's directly related to the topic. I am interested in reading the blog.
     
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  12. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    I am going to tell you something folks here have probably already told you, and something you already know most likely, but Autism and Autistic disorders run in a spectrum, so what may work for one patient may not for another.

    Going with your description of your son being a high functioning autistic that responds better to a familiar environment, I would get him used to the camper in a familiar environment. A.K.A. "Camp Driveway". Let him get accustomed to any special gear such as if you are having to use the campers bathroom in camp, then do it in the driveway camp, or set up the privy tent and use that, but get used to it in friendly, familiar and comforting surroundings..

    I don't have children myself, but good friends of the family we often camp with have high functioning autistic children in their tweens now, and it took about a year to get their son used to their camper. Now they have a hard side TT and the parents and the boy spend time playing cards, having tea, etc... in the camper in the driveway. When he gets overwhelmed with whatever stimulus is going on outside, he can retreat to the camper, and crawl up in his bunk and do whatever he has to to get a hold of what he is going through...

    He loves camping, and has FAR fewer issues camping with birds, and squirrels, and whatnot, than he does in busy urban environments...

    Another thing to consider, and I am NOT claiming to be any sort of medical expert, please talk to your childs doctor about this, but at least anecdotally, when I was a kid, I was diagnosed as being hyperactive, these days they would say ADHD and give me a fist full of drugs, but back then the doctor prescribed what would have been effectively a diabetic diet, kind of .

    #1. Absolutely, positively no pre processed foods. Specifically avoid chemical additives and preservatives whenever and wherever possible.
    #2. No simple carbohydrates. A.K.A. bleached white flour, white rice, potatoes etc...
    #3. Limit sugars, encourage fresh fruit instead. So with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and maybe 2 or 3 ice cream cones in the summer, I never had anything but fruit for desert...
    #4. Fruits, vegetables should be local / organic.

    The point was to avoid the chemical and simple carbs from the food supply. Particularly sugars.

    And yes, this worked for me, very well.

    My friends with the autistic son, their doc recommended the same kind of diet for him, and his symptoms are much better managed.

    Something to consider to make everyones life a bit easier...
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021

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