A Summer of Fun for Children With ADHD
A variety of day and sleep-away camps are helping children with learning disabilities blossom like a summer flower.
Rewards and Self-Confidence continued...
In a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child
Psychology in 2000, researchers compared children with ADHD taking
medication alone with those taking medication and participating in an organized
summer treatment camp. The study, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and
the University of California at both Berkley and Irvine, showed those children
on the combined medication and activity regimen far exceeded those on
medication alone in various behavioral categories.
Bart Hodgens, PhD, director of the Summer Treatment Program at
the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is offering the STP approach at their
day camp for 5- to 18-year-olds with ADHD for the first time this year. He says
he has high hopes that local children will respond favorably.
"We have a very high counselor-to-camper ratio, a lot of
individualized attention, and programs that are designed to allow the children
to recognize and understand their behavioral problems and then come away with
some skills needed to change them -- all while participating in a variety of
carefully planned and structured daily activities," Hodgens tells WebMD.
Indeed, a typical day at an STP program looks something like
8:00 - 8:15 -- Social skills training
8:15 - 9:00 -- Soccer skills
9:00 - 9:15 -- Transition
9:15 - 10:15 -- Soccer game
10:15 - 10:30 -- Transition
10:30 - 11:30 -- Academic learning center
11:30 - 11:45 -- Transition
11:45 - noon -- Lunch
Noon - 12:15 -- Recess
12:15 - 1:15 -- Softball
1:15 - 1:30 -- Transition
1:30 - 2:15 -- Arts and crafts
2:15 - 2:30 -- Cooperative tasks
2:30 - 2:45 -- Transition
2:45 - 3:45 -- Swimming
3:45 - 4:00 -- Transition
4:00 - 5:00 -- Computer skills
5:00 - 5:30 -- Departure
"We plan every minute, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun --
the activities are structured in a way that allows the kids to be fully engaged
at all times. Ultimately, they are not only entertained and occupied, they also
learn important coping skills that work in all areas of their life," says
Survivor: ADHD Style!
Taking the theory in a slightly different direction are
sleep-away camps like Talisman, a North Carolina program for children aged 9 to
17 with ADHD, as well as a variety of other learning disabilities and
behavioral problems. Based on programs developed by the nationwide Aspen
Education Group, Talisman has been ongoing for nearly a quarter of a century.
Director Linda Tatapough says structure, discipline, and positive reinforcement
are the keys to its success.
"Our programs are designed to be highly structured and highly
supervised -- one big difference from your typical summer camp. But we feel
this approach is important for children with ADHD because if you give them too
much freedom there are just too many choices -- and that leads to problems,"