I've been really lucky this week. I have been working at a summer camp called Camp Gonnawannagoagin. This is a camp specifically for Autistic children and has year round sessions for winter, spring, and summer breaks. It's amazing. I got introduced to it almost 5 years ago when I started working at my job. I work in-home and in-community with an Autistic teen one on one. It's the best job I have ever had and I wouldn't trade it in for the world. I work the camp for about one or two weeks a year when the guy I work with goes. His mom prefers that I go with him and if I am unavailable she won't send him (which I didn't know until last year when I was unable to go..... stupid France). She prefers me because he can't speak. He only does sign language and he is very picky about several things and I work with him year round and I know how to handle his reaction and I can understand his sign language. So we go to camp every year and every year we have an AMAZING TIME!!
This week we have gone to the arcade, fire station, Aquarium/Horseback riding, kayaking, and not to mention we go swimming everyday! Tomorrow we get to go to a huge water park and we have a party complete with fun at the park and CUPCAKES (they have a party every Friday to celebrate and send off the campers who are leaving). It's a blast and it's nice, even if it's only for a week or two every year, to be able to go out to places with a group of others and feel like we belong. I take the guy I work with out in the community everyday but most people are still iffy when it comes to understanding why he acts the way he does. It doesn't bother me so much now, but in the beginning it was rather annoying having people stare at us or cast dirty looks. Now we just ignore them and we have a routine so the places we go to know us. It's just nice to be around others who understand and who are dealing with the same things we are.
I used to be a special education major in college for the first 2 years. I switched for several reasons. But I mainly switched because after observing and getting into the school systems I realized I couldn't make the difference teaching a class that I do working one on one like I do now. The school systems in Virginia are bogged down with restrictions and paper work. Did you know you can't even hug a child without it being misconstrued sexual harassment? I shit you not. I have a problem extremist structures and the school systems have become just that. I applaud anyone who can deal with it and who has made the commitment to work there. But it's not for me. I make the difference here, doing what I do. And that's all that matters to me.