On Friday, I thought I’d give the summer camp one last try for Jude. I have never felt completely happy with it as I’m not entirely sure what Jude does all day and I’m also not entirely sure they understand their children enough. I know as a parent it is down to me to tell them as much information about Jude as possible but I was hoping some element of common sense would enter into the day.
My issues are these:
1) Jude didn’t eat much of his lunch because at snack time he apparently ate everything in sight. Why did they not stop him? And secondly, why are they feeding a bunch of learning disabled children sugary cereals as a snack? Jude, as you know, is obsessed with cereal to the point where I don’t buy it that often any more. This has the slightly unfortunate effect of utter engorgement whenever cereal passes by as an option. I would hope a responsible adult would have removed Jude from said snack table once a bowl had been eaten. It appears not!
I have tried to teach Jude about limits and what portion sizes look like but he just doesn’t care. I’m pretty certain he would eat an entire box of Shreddies or Cheerios if given the chance. Needless to say, when I collected Jude, he was as high as a kite.
It’s not pleasant and since they are running a summer camp for learning disabled children, surely it makes sense to only offer foods as a snack that nourish their little bodies and brains. I appreciate the fact they are on a budget but vegetable sticks, milk and rice cakes or even toast is a better option.
So onto issue 2)
So, you can imagine the scene…Jude has eaten his body weight in Cheerios and Frosties (eeeekk) and didn’t eat any of his lovely, hand-chosen and nutritionally balanced lunch (left over gluten free spaghetti with veggie mince bolognaise that he loves, carrot and cucumber sticks, some strawberries and natural soya yoghurt).
What activity did they do next? Baking.
Baking can be good, I’m not against baking in any way as long as it’s teaching them something useful. Again, I know this is a summer camp and is all about fun but these are disabled children and they need everything to be literal and clear, Jude doesn’t understand the notion of doing something as a one off treat like Elsa does. Jude needs you to be consistent with the healthy stuff or else he thinks eating sweets every day is normal. He has no concept or any instinct for what nutritionally is best. So, do you remember he was repeatedly asking if we could get sweets from the shop a few weeks ago? I put a ban on all sweets since then, including even mentioning sweets and thankfully now he’s moved away from that obsession and is plotting his next target!
So anyway, what did they bake? Sugar mice. I kid you not.
So Jude ate Cheerios, no lunch and then probably licked up all the remains from his sugar mouse building. I know it’s mean and I need to chill out a little some times but I chucked the evil, headache (for all) inducing rodent in the bin and gave Jude some hummus and tortillas instead. He was happy. He honestly doesn’t care what it is as long as it’s food.
I’m that parent that all summer camp organisers hate, aren’t I?
I’m going to speak to them about it, this isn’t a futile online rant I promise and I want them to do well so am sure they’ll appreciate any productive feedback from service users. I think one of the problems at this summer camp is that they employ very young staff to play with the children (keeping costs down no doubt!) I have no problem with young staff at all and in fact, Jude adored one of the guys in particular so that was lovely. However, common sense is essential when working with largely non-verbal, learning disabled children and I think having some older, more work experienced staff running each session would make parents (ok, probably just whingey old me) feel more relaxed.
We have one more session booked in with them so I’m going to try and put my assertive head on and insist on a few ground rules for the boy!