Camp STAR for kids with ADHD a life-changing experience

 

 

It’s not just a summer camp. For children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Camp STAR can be a life-changing experience.

“At the end of camp, parents often describe their child as a ‘brand new kid,’” said Janine Rosenberg, assistant clinical director of Camp STAR and UIC assistant professor of clinical psychology.

“They can’t believe the transformation that takes place over the seven weeks of camp.”

Camp STAR (the name stands for Summer Treatment for ADHD and Related Issues), a partnership of UIC and the Jewish Council for Youth Services, is the only program of its kind in Illinois.

The camp, for children 6 to 12, is held weekdays 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., June 15 through July 31, in Highland Park. A few spaces may still be available.

The clinical director of Camp STAR, Andrea Chronis-Tuscano, is an internationally recognized expert in ADHD who worked with the developer of the award-winning summer treatment program.

“Camp STAR stresses using positive feedback to change behavior, and we give children tools and techniques they can use after they leave camp to help them be successful in their day-to-day lives,” said Chronis-Tuscano, clinical associate professor of psychiatry.

The comprehensive, evidence-based program provides a fun camp environment with a focus on social rewards and positive reinforcement through sports and recreation. The approach has been shown to improve the behavior and social functioning of children with ADHD, said Chronis-Tuscano, who also directs the ADHD program at the University of Maryland.

Children with ADHD and associated problems often struggle to fit in at typical camps, she said. Camp STAR provides intensive treatment using behavior modification, modeling, and social skills training, along with sports skills training.

“It’s so rewarding to see many of the children, by the end of the summer, have had a successful experience. They feel better about themselves, they have developed friendships, and their families have acquired new skills to cope with their children’s behaviors,” Chronis-Tuscano said.

Every child receives an individualized treatment plan to teach and reward social skills, improve attention and anger management, control impulsive behaviors and enhance self-esteem. A one to two staff-to-camper ratio ensures that each child receives individual attention. Advanced graduate and undergraduate students in psychology, education, or health-related fields staff Camp STAR.

Parents attend weekly group sessions to learn techniques used at camp.

“Camp STAR is great for the kids, but we also work intensively with parents to help them create the kind of environment at home where a child with ADHD can be as successful as possible,” Chronis-Tuscano explained.

Camp STAR is based on the behavioral therapy principles used in the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD, which showed that children who participate in a summer treatment program obtain a high level of success with lower doses of medication than children who did not receive behavioral treatment.

Campers express their creativity through arts and crafts, and work on classroom behavior in the Academic Learning Center. Other activities include weekly field trips, Friday cookouts, swimming and a graduation ceremony.

For more information, contact Amy Shimoni at ashimoni@jcys.org or 847-433-6001, ext. 108.

 

 

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