Letting go of my desire for control and letting Angela have space and independence is one of the most difficult things for me to do as her mommie. My biggest fear is not so much that Angela will be treated badly or that her needs will not be met, its more that I fear that she will not be challenged and pushed and not be treated like a typical four year old. I struggle so much when people treat Angela like a child with a disability and not like a four year old little girl. Part of that is just my stubbornness and some of that is grief.
Even though I didn't physically give birth to her and although we knew and choose to be her mommie and daddy despite her medical concerns, I still grieve for Angela -- for the life she would live without these issues that make things a lot more difficult for her. So needless to say sending her to camp is a very big deal -- both for her and probably more so for me!
Our local Freedom Valley YMCA is simply amazing. There support for individuals with disabilities is unmatched. All my kids have so many opportunities -- so many that we have yet to participate in the many programs available that could meet there extra needs. Camp is no different. Our YMCA offers camp Majic for children with disabilities. This is a day camp held at the YMCA with the option of either full or half day camp. Since this was Angela's first time we chose to stick with half day, which has been a good choice as she is completely exhausted by the time she is done!
The first day I stayed with Angela for about an hour and gave her one on one buddie a little training in Angela 101. We went over seizure protocol and emergency meds as well as all the little things that make Angela unique. I should also add that I met with the camp a few weeks back to go over all this stuff in way more details and to explain exactly what Angela needed. After I got her out to the pool and taught the buddie how to handle Angela in the pool. I left.
I left. Wow. Such a big step for me.
In the time after I left Angela enjoyed the pool, went inside got dressed, braces and shoes on and headed upstairs to the special needs gym where they played on all the amazing equipment. When I came back at noon to pick Angela up she was happy but so very tired. After camp we headed back out to the pool with Madison and Jayden and Angela fell asleep within just a few seconds and took a nice two hour nap.
Tuesday the camp took a field trip to the local horse riding stable. Angela enjoyed herself but because of her vision she really didn't really actively see the horses. Because of a little/big glitch where medical releases were never filled out Angela didn't get to ride the horse, which would have been amazing, and in fact the main reason I chose to send her this particular week of camp. Bummer.
The staff at the stables were amazing. One day I would love to be able to get Angela involved with Therapeutic Riding. After realizing Angela's issues with vision they put a helmet on her and brought over one of the big horses for her to look at. She still really struggled with visually understanding the horse but they did let her feel the tail which she seemed to enjoy. We programed her talker so that she was able to say "horse" and "it's beautiful", which she loved talking about and was lots of fun for other people to hear her saying.
The only downside about camp is that it's a special needs camp. Angela really needs active social interaction. Most of these kids seem to be more Autistic. They all have aids. There really was no kid to kid interaction -- lot of adults just redirecting all the time and it can get kinda chaotic. Angela thrives when kids play with and around her. She really engages and shows off her social side. When people move and play around her and not with her it gets very frustrating and overwhelming for Angela. All the adults talking firmly in various directions is even more confusing considering her visual impairment. Even though a typical kid environment is also chaotic, it's more an organized chaos. All the same type voices all talking about the same kinda of stuff. It's so different.
Even though I don't think we will do special needs camp again, I'm glad we are here for this year. We are so thankful to the YMCA for being able to provide our children with the support they need to live active lives.