This will be the second summer Riley will be attending a three hour a day music camp. The camp is four weeks and costs about $350 dollars. In addition, we have to pay out of pocket, for a one-on-one aide, which costs more than double the price of camp.
It hurts my husband. He looks physically pained when we talk about the money.
We absolutely adore the aide we send with Riley. She is one who worked well with her in the public school before we took her out, and she totally "gets" our girl. It's just no one else has to pay triple the cost of camp, you know? That's what bothers him. We've paid out of pocket for almost everything she's needed since she was two. The discrimination by insurance companies against kids with autism is deplorable. The money thing just gets to him sometimes.
So in signing up Riley this year, one of the employees at the camp was setting things up for us, and we were talking about our aide, and she said how much she loved her and told me a little story about something that happened last summer.
Apparently, there is a big meeting with all the campers first thing each morning, before they separate into groups. Two weeks in, during this meeting, Riley blurted something out. It was the first she had contributed, and it was a big deal, to speak before a group of dozens of children, especially since she didn't know them well. Riley is a rule girl. To talk out of turn, she must have been super stoked and engaged.
Well, apparently when she did this, one of the main counselors chastised Riley sternly for not raising her hand.
Her devoted aide, was so ticked off, she took this lady out. She is this tiny little black woman, no bigger than a minute, and she went up to head honcho camp lady and said,
"You don't do her like that."
I can picture her pointing her finger and the "Oh no you didn't" rippling through her body. She loves the kids in her charge and you just don't mess with them.
She went on, "This little girl finally had something to say and you shut her down. Don't claim to take kids with special needs and then treat them that way."
Then she marched upstairs and told her boss.
Upon hearing this story, my husband got over his pain.
With tears welled up in his eyes he said,
"We'll pay her anything."