Finding Summer Camp for Your Special Little One

If you’re reading this, you probably are extremely overwhelmed and feel as though there is no hope of finding what you are looking for. Well, I'm here to help!

As a mother of a child with special needs, it is challenging to find care for him during the summer months once school ends. Most summer camp programs locally are targeted to children who can function in a fast-paced substantial group atmosphere and this is not ideal for a lot of little ones in the community. Over the past few years, I have done a lot of research and found my go to when looking for proactive summer camps for my special little one.

Summer camp for special needs children #summercamp #specialneeds #autism

ESY (Extended School Year)

ESY is a service provided beyond the traditional school year for children who need additional education time or other services to help them when traditional school time is not available. ESY is something you can have added to your little ones IEP (individual education plan)  during your IEP meeting.  During your meeting your child's IEP team which DOES include you will discuss and agree if this service is ideal for your child.

ESY is excellent because it can be offered at your child’s home school which they will attend during the school year, so it’s a familiar place with familiar faces. It targeted to your child’s specific needs, so you know that they are meeting their IEP goals as well as enjoying fun summer activities. ESY is also great for children who tend to or may regress in progress when they have gaps in learning or routine. IT is also great for children who may just need a little extra time achieving their IEP goals before the next school year.

Inclusive Day Care/Camp

Believe it or not, your local daycare centers that offer summer care or camps often have an inclusive classroom that is of small ratio that can include your child. I found the best way to find out is to ask and discuss your child with the director of the facility as many of them, unfortunately, do not advertise this program. That way you build a stable relationship with them as well as get a better understanding of what they can or can not offer for your child.

When meeting in person bringing your child's IEP along will be very helpful as it will further give information for the facility or remind you of things you may forget to ask.You want to be sure that the facility is able to care for your child properly. Does your child medical needs? Does the facility have handicap accessible restrooms and entrances? Is the playground handicap accessible? These are just a few questions you should ask if it pertains to your child.


Autism Speaks is a helpful site if you have a little one who falls on the spectrum or has any other special needs. One of the great things you can find on their website is summer camps in your area. They have an extensive list of camps that your city offers. Below I have provided a direct link where you can search programs and services in your state.

Find Programs in Your Area

What makes this search too great is that these programs are meant for children with needs so it take away the extra steps in making sure these programs have what you need for your little one.

Community Center

Your local YMCA or community center may have programs for your little one. The great thing about these programs is that they offer specific camps for different talents and activities. Our local YMCA offers a inclusive art camp that my son will be attending. They also off a variety of sports related camps as well.

From my experience, this search can be quite stressful finding the perfect fit for you and your little one. I hope this post gives you a better start to understand where and how to look.

Do you know of any programs in your area. Leave it below in the comments with your City, State to help a fellow parent!

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