Planning a Family Vacation For a Child Who Has Autism

This blog is by Jane Isbister, Camp Director (I), Kinark Outdoor Centre, Kinark Child and Family Services.

April 2, 2016 is the day we celebrate World Autism Awareness day, the day we all wear blue in support of autism awareness and attend various flag-raising celebrations. While World Autism Awareness Day always occurs in the early spring, I know that many of you are thinking about the summer and vacation in general. The Kinark Outdoor Center (KOC) is located in Minden, Ontario, and is positioned to deliver autism respite programs to families and their children almost every weekend from May to November and weekly throughout the coming summer.

These programs serve more than 1,000 people each year, including children on the spectrum, their parents and their siblings. The KOC is supported by staff with specialized autism training to ensure each family gets the most from their experience, whether it’s a weekend or through the week. The price point for the basic fee-for-service Autism Family Camp (AFC) Vacation costs $715 per family for three nights.

The staff and camp environment at the KOC create a judgment free, comfortable and inclusive space in which to enjoy a family get-away. KOC staff are trained and enabled to support the dynamic needs of children on the spectrum and their families, including adapting program, providing a specialized diet and maintaining a fun and safe opportunity for a family vacation. This atmosphere creates a true break from the routines of home: the cooking is done, the program is planned and delivered and families can share experiences together. While participating fully in the communal experience of summer camp, parents decompress easily in the knowledge that all families share in the experience of having a special needs child with autism.

The KOC currently has spaces open for the fall Autism Family Camp. The unique colours of the Haliburton Highlands should be on display in their full glory, helping to create the opportunity for unique exploration and programming. This special fall camp is being offered October 2-5, 2016. Registration is on the KOC’s webpage. And remember to support World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2016, by wearing blue as part of Autism Speaks Light it Up Blue campaign and attending Autism Ontario’s  various flag-raising events scheduled for April 4, 2016.