Friday, August 10, 2007

The Dog Days

We have just entered The Last Week. Joey's summer programs all end a week from today. Then we have two weeks of basically nothing- an abyss- before school begins.

We're not the only family to sign up for eight weeks of speech camp this summer. Or summer school. While maintaining our regular therapies. And then add a social skills camp to these last two weeks. Andy has patiently sat in the therapists office from 1 o'clock on, sometimes to 6 o'clock... all summer long. He has also not been alone.

There is a little girl who has sat in the office most of the summer while her brother is in speech camp. Is she seven? Eight? Old enough to like to do cartwheels across the waiting room and spruce up her pretty little face with Hello Kitty lipgloss. There are two preteen girls who come less often, but armed with DVDs and drawing pads, also waiting for speech camp siblings. There are two little girls and their baby brother awaiting a child in OT, who like to play with the plastic dolls' house in the speech room. The baby likes to climb the stairs and look down at his Dad through the rails. He also happens to have Down's Syndrome. There are some other siblings that come less often, or who I have seen less of at any rate. One is only eleven days old.

Whenever I think its been a long summer, I think of these kids. It's been a long summer for them, too. They didn't go to day camp, or cheerleading camp, or sports camp, or any of the things other non-special-needs kids seem to be doing. They didn't get to do lots of enrichment programs, or spend lots of lazy days by the pool. They didn't go to the beach. They stayed mostly right here, supporting their brothers and sisters as best they could by letting mom or dad or grandma or grandpa drag them to the therapy office day after day, and thus allow their siblings to have their therapies.

Next summer (and yes, I fully expect to be doing this again next summer), I'll probably ask the therapists if they mind if we have a Sibling Camp. Something to offer these kids besides sitting in the waiting room doing... well, not much. It could be free. I've got enough art supplies laying around here to put something together. A sprinkler in the parking lot would be OK for a brief activity when it wasn't absolutely boiling. Singing new songs and maybe even playing some Signing Time or other activity-related DVDs wouldn't cost anything. It would even be easy enough to have stuff that kids could easily walk-in/walk-out from; stations or quickie crafts so that anyone can join in, or opt out, as appointments allow. Just something so these kids don't feel like they spent the summer sitting around a waiting room. Something to get them through these last dog days of the summer, before the Abyss.


bigwhitehat said...

Wow. That sounds productive.

I think we are going to try hippotherapy with Tiger.

kristina said...

I think you are on to something important here---the waiting room need not feel like, if you'll excuse the reference, the setting of No Exit---Huis Clos.

mcewen said...

We put our daughter in morning summer camp because of this dilemma. The camp is so 'cheap' [all morning community centre] by comparison with the 'therapies' per hour. The 'we can't afford it' is still ringing in my ears but that's not an option for some people, and often the siblings are babies / too young in any case. I hope next year they'll all benefit from your plans.
Best wishes

Niksmom said...

Wow, what an awesome idea! I hope they do it (the sibling camp). I'm sure it would help the parents feel less frustration about not being able to give their other kids a bit of fun while they wait.