Having spent over an hour yesterday filling out and completing some rather thick application forms, we've begun the process of getting Alex signed up for summer camps. I have no idea when we'll hear whether or not we've been successful but at least the applications are in.
This is one of the frustrating sides of dealing with autism bureaucracy: the lack of information. With Nathan, I can use the City of Ottawa camps. I can search for specific camps. I can look at the options several weeks before registration opens. The opening date is clearly marked on the website and I get confirmation within 24 hours of registration.
I had been given recommendations for several camps for Alex, which is good because Googling "special needs camps Ottawa" or "autism camps Ottawa" led to less than useful results. (None of the recommendations came up within the first 5 pages.) Then I started checking the recommended camps' websites, only to discover no information about the 2016 camps. Some had notes about the 2015 camps, but nothing useful like dates or costs.
After a few weeks of site trolling, I called to get more information. For one, I was told that registration would open sometime in April but that I could submit a registration form in advance for consideration. (The form was on the site under Residential Programs but I was assured it also included summer day camps.) For another, I was told that I needed to sign up for a $30 annual membership in order to qualify to apply. The third has yet to return my call.
So now comes the waiting and wondering. Did I make a mistake on the application which will disqualify me? (Has happened before.) What are the criteria for choosing which applications are granted? What are my chances of being accepted? Should I apply to multiple camps for the same weeks to increase Alex's chances? It's frustrating to have such limited options and little to no information about them.
I just have to wait and see and recognize that the answers will probably come late enough to make it difficult to set up any other kind of services. Sometimes I feel as though I'm being held hostage by bureaucracy: they hold all the power and I don't even have the basic information to protect myself.