May 7, 2018 – (Key West, FL) Key West Art & Historical Society Children’s Program Instructors to Attend University of Miami’s “Strategies for Including Children with Autism in Camp” Training: Other Camp Instructors Invited

On Saturday, May 12 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, Key West Art & Historical Society’s children’s program instructors will attend a “Strategies for Including Children with Autism in Camp” training led by University of Miami’s Center for Autism Related Disorders (CARD) at the Basilica School of Saint Mary Star of the Sea library in Key West.  The free training invites all educators and camp counselors to explore strategies and support necessary to best meet the needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders or other related disabilities.

Austism has become widespread in the US, with 1 in 68 children on the spectrum, according to most recent 2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control. One in every 42 boys has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and for girls, one in every 189.  The neurological disorder affects the way the brain develops and processes information, often characterized by impaired social interactions, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. It is considered a “spectrum” disorder due to its wide variance of behaviors and severity from one person to another.

Unfortunately, the disorder can often go undiagnosed and be mistaken for “behavior problems,” especially in younger children.  Learning what to look for, and how to support it, is critical to the well-being of all the children involved in a camp setting.

“In order to provide the best environment for the ever-increasing number of children with ASDs we need to ensure that our staff are prepared and have an understanding of the challenges that these children face on a daily basis,” says Society Director of Education Adele Williams. “The only way to achieve this is to ensure that our instructors understand their needs.”

The Society’s team of 10-plus instructors work with children of all ages and stages in their year-long program offerings—Parent & Me Fort Adventures, summer ArtCamp!, Museums for Homeschoolers, professional day and school break workshops, and special holiday workshops—and anticipate that the training will give them the tools needed to best support the ASD children in them.

University of Miami – Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) is a state-funded resource and support program dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with autism and related disabilities.   They invite all camp instructors in the Keys communities to attend the free Saturday training and can register through CARD: umcard.org/event/including-children-autism-summer-camp-strategies-camp-counselors.

“It is vital that we create a more inclusive environment where these children can develop the skills that they need to interact with their peers,” says Williams. “And vice versa.”

Registration is also still open for ArtCamp! at Fort East Martello, a summer program that celebrates Key West’s rich artistic history and natural landscape over 9 week-long sessions beginning June 4 and running through August 3.  In addition to camps held for children aged 5-14, this year’s program includes a week of special Program Aide Training for Teens aged 12-16 held June 11-June 15, which will certify participants in assisting with the children’s summer program though leadership, creativity, and team-building development.

For more information on Key West Art & Historical Society’s children’s programs, call Adele Williams at 305-295-6616, extension 115.Your museums.  Your community.  It takes an island. 

IMAGE:Crystal Smith, an instructor for Key West Art & Historical Society children’s programs, works with ArtCamp! students in a Claymation camp last summer. Smith is one of several Society camp instructors who will attend a “Strategies for Including Children with Autism in Camp” training workshop led by University of Miami’s Center for Autism Related Disorders (CARD) at the Basilica School of Saint Mary Star of the Sea library in Key West on Saturday, May 12. The workshop runs from 1:00-3:00pm and is free for organizations and their staff that are hosting summer camps.