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I'll aim for 'smother of the year'

By Darcy L. Fargo

Darcy Fargo

July 31, 2019

I’m not likely to win any awards as “mother of the year,” so I’ll aim for “smother of the year.”

Even under ordinary circumstances, I’m known for being a bit protective of my son. Dropping off my son for his first ever week of Camp Guggenheim – his first extended time away that wasn’t with family – was not an ordinary circumstance. To say I was nervous would be the understatement of the century. I was terrified.

In addition to the typical concerns any parent has in such situations (will he be homesick, will he get hurt, will he make friends…), my husband and I have to worry about how Jake, who is on the autism spectrum, will fare in a group of neurotypical kids. Will he be accepted? Will he get overwhelmed? Will he need help transitioning from one activity to the next? Will he advocate for himself if he needs something?

Enter smother of the year.

Filling out Jake’s camp registration forms, I listed everything I could think of related to his autism. I described his stims. I described situations that could overwhelm him. I listed out all the foods he will eat (he has sensory issues around food). I must’ve asked the youth ministry director if he was sure they could handle Jake at camp eleventy billion times (sorry, Tom).

Then, on the day we arrived at Camp Guggenheim, I was instructed to talk to the camp nurse about any concerns we had. The nurse, Maura, made it clear that they had a plan to ensure Jake would have a good camp experience. A counselor was assigned to Jake for the first couple days of camp (with the option to extend, if needed) to ensure he was transitioning well. A Jake-friendly menu had been prepared. She told us Jake had the option to step away from any activity if he needed a break.

In another smother of the year moment, I took advantage of my position with the diocese to visit camp with a camera around my neck and a notebook in hand. While I was there to collect information and photos for the annual camp article (see page 10), I was also there to check on my son.

Jake was having so much fun, he didn’t want to take time to chat. He loved camp. He’s already looking forward to next year.

And we loved camp. The world is not always autism friendly. Worship isn’t always autism friendly (see the story here). We’re thankful and blessed that camp was autism friendly.

Thank you to everyone who made camp great for Jake.

I promise I won’t be smother of the year next year.

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