Children with Special Needs

First Steps Toward Inclusion

From the day we are born we are a member of a community. As our development progresses and we learn to convey our wants and needs, our involvement and inclusion in family and community life increases. In some instances, infants and young children require early intervention therapy to augment their social, emotional and physical development so that they become actively engaged in their community.

 

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Jewish Summer Camp Welcomes Everyone

Jewish summer camp welcomes everyone - and I mean everyone. Our son Danny, who is now 23 years old, has attended Jewish summer camp for nearly 20 years. His journey began at the Mayer Kaplan JCC in Skokie. And since Danny was headed to Jewish camp, I signed up his younger sister as well. At three and five years of age, Debbie and Danny were eager and enthusiastic to follow in the footsteps of their older siblings as campers. However, for Danny there was a difference.

Danny is on the autism spectrum, and the secular day camp that his older sisters attended did not offer the services and supports Danny needed. Fortunately, an inclusion program jointly sponsored by Keshet and the JCCs did, and off we went.

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Sibling Relationships

by Erica Aten, M.A., Pre-Doctoral Clinical Psychology Intern, Psychological Services

Although parents are typically a child's first source of human connection, sibling relationships are also an important factor in development. As of 2010, 82.22% of youth lived with at least one sibling(1). Sibling bonds are unique in that they often last a lifetime and are typically people’s longest relationships in life(2). Sibling relationships are influential in many ways.

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Camp Does the Mind & Body Good

by Olena Vasilik, Psy.D. Camp Firefly Coordinator

Parents and children alike speak of summer camps with excitement, often reflecting on fond memories from their own experiences.  Summer camps are an opportunity for children of all walks of life to continue to build upon the cognitive, emotional and psychological skills learned throughout the school year. 

Camp Firefly is tailored to the special needs of children, teens, and young adults who struggle in social spheres.  Whether diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Asperger’s, Non-Verbal Learning Disability, Social Anxiety, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or just generally having problems with social communication, then consider Camp Firefly for your child.  The camp offers specialized, therapeutic assistance in boosting self-confidence, engaging with peers effectively, and managing emotional dysregulation within a safe, supported, and fun environment.  At Camp Firefly, youth learn new skills while engaging with like-minded peers.

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Forever Friends: Camp Counselors Share Their Story

By Eliana Wool, M.A. and Caitlin McIlwee, M.A.

“Camp friends are forever friends.” This proverb was the first of many pieces of wisdom passed to us throughout our time as counselors at Camp Firefly.  We were both eager to be counselors, and, like the campers preparing for session, we wondered what our experience had in store for us. Nothing could have prepared us for how rewarding, fun and unforgettable camp was!

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A Week in the Life of a Camp Firefly Camper

by Audra Kaplan, Psy.D.

First day of camp, Mike is quietly keeping to himself. He’s not sure of his new surroundings. Some strange lady is trying to help him put his clothes into the drawers that will hold his possessions and a few favorite objects from home for the next several days. Mike is excited about camp, but if he knew how to express it, he would say he is nervous. This is not only his first time at an overnight camp, this is his first time sleeping away from family. He did have that one sleep over at Aunt Sue’s, but she is still family.

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