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#actuallyautistic voices

Narrative: My Favorite Days at Camp

Summer is getting closer! We're so pleased to post this personal narrative from Jared Don. He talks about his favorite day at summer camp but also discusses his experience with OCD. Jared hopes to reach others who struggle with self-regulation and compulsivity.


For the most part, I have the goal of moving and sitting outside at the end of summer. The thing that I face in the toll that is happening this year with coronavirus, is that I haven't gone to summer camp. I went the year before and got wistful thinking about camp. My favorite days were at camp as long as I could keep my OCD (sensory interests and repetitive movements) in control. The activities at camp were so much fun and I have good memories about the folks that were interested in me. The very single thing that made my day happy was how well I stayed in the best state of mind. The activities were definitely important to keep the compulsions from controlling the day. Overcoming the OCD was my biggest challenge at camp.

In the mornings, we sometimes had Zam dance with everyone together in a tent. I was not thrilled about going because I thought of myself as a bad dancer. However, I was willing to force myself to try. I liked being with the group and the music made me feel happy. My counselor said, "Do what I do", and she helped me learn the steps. I started to have fun even though it was hard to have the right moves. The movement helped me think in the present and be with the group.

My favorite part of the day was going to the pool. I love the feel of the water and sun on my body. When I swim, I focus on the feeling of going through the water. The force of the water when I swim regulates me. I had fun with the others when we went underwater. I get a charge out of floating on my back to rest. I also got very good at tolerating the slide although it's not the best part for me. After I swim, I feel calm, have better ability to follow directions, and sleep the whole night through.

Another great thing at camp were the trips. I liked traveling on the bus. When I ride the bus I like to look out the window and think about what I will do in the future. One wonderful trip at camp was doing horticulture at a farm. I found that the physical labor was helpful to my state of body control. Another trip was to a museum where we did an art project. We also went on a boat ride and to a water park. The water park was the activity that most took me to a state for a calm body.

The activities at camp were what had the most help for me to control my OCD. The challenge was still there however during transitions; getting out of the pool, getting off the bus, and between one activity to the next. If I can do the forced interest in the behavior that is socially acceptable, I hope to be able to go to camp this summer to have more of my favorite days.

Jared is an autistic high school student in Maryland who types to communicate.


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