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WATCH: Camp Summer Garden is back providing direct care for children with autism

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jun 25, 2024
  • According to Autism Society FL, 1 in 36 children in Florida have autism.
  • Due to launching in the middle of COVID, the camp only provided in direct services through virtual session from 2021-23.
  • Watch the video to hear from the camp's program director regarding the value in bringing a camp of this magnitude to the Big Bend region.


One in 36 children in the state are on the autism spectrum.

That's according to Autism Society Florida,

I'm your Southwest Tallahassee reporter Terry Gilliam Jr. taking a closer look at how one camp in College Town caters to the needs of our local youth.

"In my case I actually have a niece who has autism and I watched just some of the struggles that her mom had with trying to find quality education and enrichment programs."

Dr. Iris Pendleton is the program director of Camp Summer Garden.

Pendleton has over 15 plus years of experience in childhood education,

She wanted to expand her horizons back in 2020 by providing direct services to autistic youth.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the camp had to take a hiatus from providing these services.

This year, the group is back in full effect providing individualized care through direct services.

The camp is able to provide this care free of charge, thanks to a grant from the Children Services Council of Leon County,

"I, myself couldn't really afford to put her in a regular camp" BUTTED TO "I can probably make it work but it would have been very difficult without this scholarship."

Jennifer Monday, has a daughter who attends Camp Summer Garden.

Monday says, earlier this month was her child's first time attending a summer camp, ever.

Let alone a camp catered to her needs.

"Often times I think children with autism or other disabilities they are placed in environments that aren't built in a way for them to be successful. Camp Summer Garden with our low ratios (from teacher to student) we are able to offer individualized care." said Pendleton.

By the end of the week, Jennifer shared that her daughter thoroughly enjoyed.

"-and boo-hoo cried because she had to leave." said Monday.

Camp Summer Garden has openings for next month, July 8th on TCC's campus.

Special Needs Camps for Kids | Camp Summer Garden