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ADHD in Children Health Center

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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.

Survivor: ADHD Style! continued...

Although in the past Talisman's activities focused primarily on sports and leisure, this year they will incorporate skill strengthening, academic-related activities into the program as well. But Tatapough says what really sets their camp apart is a commitment to helping children recognize and work out their behavioral problems as they occur.

"We deal with issues in a group process, and whenever there's a problem, we sit down and discuss it right then and there -- the child learns to take immediate responsibility for their actions, and we talk about what can be done to change things in the future with more appropriate choices," says Tatapough.

Another active force: Encouraging the kids to work together toward a common goal that benefits all of them. "If we all work together to climb a mountain in three hours instead of six, then everyone benefits with more free time," says Tatapough. This, she says, encourages relating to peers and helps diminish feelings of isolation that many of these kids experience in their normal academic setting.

Wilderness Adventure

A bit bolder and somewhat more daring is a sleep-away summer program called SOAR -- Success Oriented Achievement Realized. A program for preteens, teens, and young adults with ADHD or other learning disabilities, you won't find any ceramics, computers, or other classroom activities here. Instead, summer life at SOAR is pure high adventure wilderness living, along the lines of Survivor -- at least in terms of coming face-to-face with the unexpected almost every day. And that, say experts, is the magic of what makes this program work.

Indeed, the philosophy behind SOAR is that children with learning disabilities or ADHD "flourish" when allowed to focus on their strengths in a totally new and challenging environment. And challenging they are. While SOAR's home bases are located in Balsam, N.C., and DuBois, Wyo., their two- and four-week programs lead expeditions throughout the Southeast, Florida Keys, Caribbean, Rockies, and desert Southwest, with special programs also available in Belize, Central America. Activities include wilderness backpacking, horse packing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, wildlife studies, mountaineering, scuba diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, and wilderness medicine.

Because up to 80% of all children with ADHD or other learning disabilities are on some type of medication regimen, SOAR as well as all of the camps previously mentioned, is staffed with psychologists, nurses, and counselors trained in administering treatments and watching over those who are on medication. The counselor-to-camper ratio is also quite high in nearly all the ADHD summer programs throughout the country, thus ensuring that the children are not only well cared for, but also that they receive the necessary emotional support as well as physical attention.

For more information on the summer treatment programs philosophy, visit ctadd.net/ctadd/stpmanual2.html.

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