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Autistic children need fun activities

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It's a chance for a normal summer camp.

Autistic children often have trouble with new environments, said Tiffany Stewart, the director of Camp Puzzle Palooza, a new weeklong summer camp designed for those with the developmental disability.

Surrounding them with children with the same disorder could provide them with fun stimulation tailored for their needs, she said.

"It's going to be a blast," Ms. Stewart said. "It's going to be a lot of fun and a chance for them to be normal kids and go to a summer camp."

Camp Puzzle Palooza is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to noon June 11-15 at Cedar Creek Church in Aiken.

Ms. Stewart, an early intervention specialist with Therapy Solutions in Aiken, created a nonprofit organization to operate Camp Puzzle Palooza, and is running it in her spare time.

Cedar Creek Church is holding the summer camp as part of its special needs ministry, she said.

Ms. Stewart works with children with developmental disabilities ranging from speech impediments to autism to Down syndrome.

She said she got the idea for the camp through talking to parents of autistic children and learning of their need for activities.

"I really have an affinity for these kids and their families," she said. "It's a real head-scratcher. It's a real puzzle. I'm drawn to these kids."

Autism affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others, and has differing degrees of severity.

The one-week camp is for children ages 2 to 7. Ms. Stewart said 20 have signed up so far.

The cost of the summer camp is $15, although expenses will run much higher than that - about $150 per camper, Ms. Stewart said. She is looking for sponsors for the camp, as well as volunteers.

She plans to include activities that will stimulate the autistic children, such as baking, themed stories and arts and crafts.

For more information, call (803) 292-9805.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.


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