Camping has been something we’ve long enjoyed, but found difficult with our child who is blind and autistic. We’ve simplified the process by renting a cabin or a yurt, so that regardless of weather conditions and Eddie’s mood, there is somewhere he can be alone and have his required “quiet-time.” However, since we don’t own a camper, spontaneous camping leaves us with making the best of things in a tent.
The first problem with tent camping is the zero sound barrier in those paper-thin walls. Campgrounds are typically very quiet. There are posted signs stating no loud noises between certain hours. My son is usually up by 4:00, and sometimes much sooner. So, there is always the fear of not being able to keep him quiet.
The second problem with tent-camping is the unpredictable weather. This time, we weren’t expecting any rain, and freezing temps at night were not going to be a problem. Sadly, our campground had an intense sprinkler system, and therefore we had some “rain.”
We did spot the sprinkler heads while setting up tents, and put up the rainfly just in case. The biggest problem was that once the sprinklers went off, Eddie was wide awake, and incapable of going back to sleep. When the sprinklers were done, Eddie requested “more rain, please,” and I didn’t have the power to bring it back. This resulted in a brief, but intense, tantrum.
The third problem with tent-camping is not having a space for Eddie to be alone, and for him to enjoy some “me-time” which he uses as a sensory break. Completely by accident, we licked that problem this time around. That was due to some accidental pre-teaching.
Many times, children who are blind can be successfully prepared for a new activity through pre-teaching. This basically means you teach skills or concepts needed ahead of time, and when the day arrives, they know what to expect. We accidentally prepared Eddie by having our tent set-up in the living room for the last month. Eddie has been playing in it since school got out and referring to it as his “fort.”
This worked out SO well for us at the campsite. As soon as we arrived, we put up the tent, and made it available to Eddie. When we asked if he wanted to play in the “fort,” he was excited about this familiar space and stayed in a much better mood. This made the weekend more fun for Eddie, and the entire family. I accidentally pre-taught him about the tent, and accidentally reminded myself about the importance of pre-teaching.