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Old 04-04-2014, 12:24 PM   #1
sukhakuli
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: So Cal
Posts: 1,272

Autism and the NPS Junior Ranger program

Has anyone had some ups and downs with this program and their ASD kids?

We go to a lot of National Parks, and the kids love doing the Junior Ranger program. My girls have no problem with the packets, but my son has moderate autism and is very academically delayed. Some places just look the book over, see he tried and let it go, which is always a nice experience for him. Yellowstone was great (overall; the ranger on our guided tour got annoyed with ds because he asked her too many questions. He loves to participate). But we've had some problems as well. At Arches the Ranger berated him, told him what a "mess" his handwriting was (he has significant fine motor delays), and that he clearly didn't try. Ds was in tears. Some parks have booklets with age ranges on them, and kids do the sections that are age appropriate. Recently at the Grand Canyon they didn't want ds to do the section for kids younger than he is. Also recently, at the Petrified Forest the Ranger wasn't going to give him his patch at all. My dh had to take ds out of the museum so I could talk privately with the ranger about ds's cognitive disabilities, and he was nice about it then to me, but it was kind of too little too late, and ds was already really upset. He looked over the girls' books and praised them all over for their work, and refused to even look at ds's. He got the badge, but we all left feeling unhappy with how he was treated.

I dislike announcing to everyone we meet that ds has autism and learning disabilities. We're kind of a "need to know" family, and not everyone needs to know. Many times he has positive experiences without me having to go and throw a label on him. But sometimes we have experiences like above, and I'm unsure what I should be doing. Should I take everyone aside and let them know he has various disabilities (he has several diagnosis), or how do you choose who to let know? We're taking the kids on another National Park trip this fall, and I want our experiences to be better than they were this last time.
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married 14 yrs ago and had (12) (9) (6) (2)
March 2002 - offsiteJuly 2003 - Contemporary September 2004 - SoG May 2005 -SoGJanuary 2007 - SoG Nov 2011 Yacht Club & Ft. Wilderness Cabins And innumerable trips to DL!
Ruh-Roh ~ September 2015 trip to WDW in the works....
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