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PostPosted: February 24th, 2010, 2:05 pm 
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Joined: June 9th, 2005, 2:27 pm
Posts: 1657
Location: Saskatoon
Kinguq and others - thanks for sharing your experiences, I find it enlightening.

A year ago I met a family from Calgary (formerly from Saskatoon but they moved to get better access to services) with a disabled daughter. I was to have done a trip on the Cree River last summer with David & Devin (father & son) but that never quite came into being for me. I am not sure if the whole family paddles, but David & Devin certainly do. This is a family that seems to make a real point of getting out and doing stuff, living their lives to the fullest. Have a look at their website, you may find some inspiration in it, and the rest of us will gain some insight from it.

http://www.noordinaryjourney.com/

They are also fundraising to help disabled kids in Southeast Asia.

An amazing family, as yours seems to be too.

Bryan

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Last edited by pawistik on September 13th, 2010, 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 7:54 pm 
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Joined: February 12th, 2008, 6:01 pm
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Location: North Bay, Ontario
An interesting story (not by me!) about canoeing with a child on the autism spectrum.

http://networkedblogs.com/79TBU

Kinguq


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PostPosted: September 7th, 2010, 9:07 pm 
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Joined: June 25th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Kitchener, Ontario Canada
I would assume that many with autism know of this center, that includes canoeing and ropes courses, I know several people that work there and it is a excellent place to go and learn.FYI they also get people with other disabilities, including burn victims.

http://www.koc.on.ca/


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PostPosted: August 20th, 2012, 3:42 pm 
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Joined: February 12th, 2008, 6:01 pm
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Location: North Bay, Ontario
Thought I would update and maybe put to rest this long-dead thread by sharing our experience over the past 2 years and perhaps, if possible, some lessons learned.

Eric is now 17 and considerably bigger than I. He is still largely non-verbal. Fortunately he is not as impulsive and violent as he used to be as that would be a considerable problem to handle in a person as big and strong as he is.
Over the past 3 years I have done 2-3 canoe trips per year with Eric, usually just the 3 of us in one canoe. On 2 occasions, most recently this year, my older son has come along, so we have had to use 2 canoes. This year we decided to do a 5 day trip from Rabbit Lake, down the Matabitchuan, then looping back through Cooper and Maxam lakes (Hap’s route 10). This is somewhat more ambitious than family trips we have done before, as it involves a fair amount of portaging and even some minor whitewater on the Mat.

Given that Eric will not paddle consistently, one of the canoes is always underpowered. We decided to avoid getting windbound on the large Rabbit Lake by using the put-in on Ross Lake, which skirts just the northern end of Rabbit Lake.

We started with considerable trepidation, as Eric as been going through a manic phase in the past few weeks. This means he is super-active and vocalizing almost constantly. The vocalizations are difficult to describe: some are like goose calls, others involve repeating a single word or phrase over and over again. Very loud and quite tiresome over a long period. This has been a great problem with Eric and there seems no way to counter these non-contextual vocalizations. It really limits where we can go and what we can do. We briefly considered giving up on the canoe trip and doing a car camping trip instead, but came to the conclusion that we would likely be evicted from any campground because of the noise. So a canoe trip it was.

Over the past 2 years we have managed to get Eric sleeping in his own tent. Because we have to monitor him all the time, we find campsites where we can pitch our tents very close together. We also prefer island campsites because there is less concern with him wandering off. Eric is an excellent swimmer, so we don’t have to worry so much about him being near or in the water.

The first night was the worst. It started to pour rain soon after dinner and we had to huddle under our tarp. Eric is not a huddler however and insisted on running around in the rain. So we packed him into his raingear and let him go. That is one thing we have learned: a child or a person like Eric lacks the “common sense” to look after basic things, like staying warm and dry. Also, they might not be able to communicate that they are uncomfortable or even hypothermic. We therefore have to have good, protective clothing for Eric, and lots of changes of clothes, because he is constantly getting wet.

On the first night Eric went to sleep OK, but woke up at around 2 and proceeded to vocalize, loudly, for about 4 hours. Needless to say little sleeping was done. We got up to rain, wind and cooler temperatures, and I thought I would have a crew rebellion on our hands. But there was no discussion of turning back, so we packed up and moved on.

The trip got better after that. Eric still doesn’t paddle much, but he is doing better on the portages, and is now able to carry a pack across. Generally someone stays with him at the end, while the others go back for another load. The logistics are a bit challenging but not insurmountably so if we accept our limitations and plan realistically. On this trip we did about 7 portages, one over 1000 m.

Eric spent much of his time in camp swimming or just wading around the shore. He seems most content when doing that. It is difficult to tell whether or not he is enjoying the activity as he doesn’t really express himself that way. In some past trips he has made it obvious that he wanted to go home, but he didn’t really do that this time.

Generally speaking it was quite a good trip. We managed well despite some poor weather and a somewhat more difficult route than we had previously managed with Eric. He seemed to enjoy it more than some previous trips. He slept better as the trip went on, which meant that we did too. There were no other people around, so we didn’t have to worry about his vocalizations, which was a great relief to us.

I find it difficult to come to any general conclusions about canoeing with disabled kids, because every one of them is so different. You really have to tailor the trip to the abilities and proclivities of the child. On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt to challenge them and yourself and maybe push the comfort zone a bit. We wouldn’t have thought a trip like this would be possible for us only a few years ago, and we only got here by pushing the envelope. Sometimes it has been very difficult, and there have been times I have sworn never to take Eric on a trip again. But I do think that Eric benefits from these trips and they definitely benefit us as a family. It is also the only way I can get out canoeing with my wife, something that is very important to both of us.

Safety is undeniably an issue, and there may be cases where it is just not advisable to take a child on a trip. Back in the days when Eric had a tendency to bolt, we lost him a couple of times and it was a truly terrifying experience. If he was still doing that, I don’t think we could go. Canoe tripping with a disabled kid is more dangerous than staying home, and as usual it is a question of risks vs benefits.

Can’t think of much else to say on the topic. As I said, every case is so different that it seems impossible to arrive at any meaningful generalities. My only advice to others would be to not be afraid to give it a try. Start small and work up. If it works, keep doing it. If not, well, now at least you know. Have fun.


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PostPosted: August 20th, 2012, 5:33 pm 
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Location: Kitchener, Ontario Canada
Glad you had a good time, as you know and describe, parents have the best understanding, sometimes a little help from a professional can make huge differences. As I said in my previous post, there are some very good camps. I am fortunate in having a family member that has worked in this area, and continues to do so in the outdoors with young children.


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PostPosted: August 24th, 2012, 9:11 am 
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Location: Newmarket, Ontario Canada
It is a little late now, but I was interested in the thread, having different types of challenges with my children and part time live in nephews For someone just beginning the route of transitioning to a tent on their own, I am wondering about a small tent, preferably with only one door, attached to the larger by a tunnel. By the time they get two zippers open, the adults in the larger tent should hear them. Even better would be tent-tunnel with no zipper - have to pass through the adult tent. My nephew is a wanderer at home, out and tripping, and I am working on rigging something like this up, as we can't fit the 3 kids and us in the Halo 4 any longer/ As he is very quiet and sneaky when he "needs" to be, short of tying him up, I am hoping this will work.

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2012, 11:45 am 
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Joined: February 12th, 2008, 6:01 pm
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Location: North Bay, Ontario
There are a number of multi-room tents on the market but the ones I have seen look very poorly made and would probably not stand up to canoe tripping.

We have settled on pitching our tents close together, if possible with the doors facing one another. It is sometimes difficult to find a site that allows for this. I am a light sleeper and am confident of waking up if Eric goes out. Also Eric is very noisy so that helps too.

It would be quite easy to rig some sort of alarm to the zipper door, say a string tied to a bell or some cans or something more elaborate. Another option might be to pin the door shut with a safety pin, so the child needs help to get out. Might be a safety issue here? Can't think of one, really, and the child exiting unobserved is really a safety issue.

Good luck with it,

Kinguq


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