Meet Ben and Ramya By Julie Stretch- Ben's Mom

I just wanted to reach out and tell you what a WONDERFUL job Ramya did with Ben this summer. Honestly, not only did Ben have a completely typical summer camp experience, he came home a different kid. Despite the fact that he began first grade this year, we've never heard about his day. Questions such as "what did you do?" were met with "play" or yes/no responses and that's it. Same goes for "what do you want" etc. This summer began the same, but about halfway through, his dad had to go out of town for work. During a phone call on speaker, Ben began to tell his dad not only about his day, but about his week - completely unsolicited. We were both shocked as this has never happened. Ever.

He has since begun to tell us about his day, things he likes and doesn't, things he wants. The kid doesn't like rides and he went to Santa's Village and went on every single one and was able to tell us his favorite, his least favorite (and why!) and that he wanted to go again. When dad came home he took Ben and his sister back and they had a blast! At the tail end of the summer, he was able to express to me that the kids could have money for the concession stand at the pool so I verified with the camp coordinator and he was right. We don't let him have soda but he had some on a field trip early in the summer and figured out he could ask the person at the counter at the stand if they have Dr. Pepper and he ended up ordering that and popcorn. That was such a win!

Along the same lines as tolerating rides, Ben got a mohawk for school. He has never had a haircut with clippers because he's too afraid. He wanted his haircut desperately at the beginning of the summer but he ended up being too scared and he cried so hard when he couldn't have one. We felt terrible but there's not really a way around that. Right after camp ended, he said he wanted a mohawk again and I thought there was a zero percent chance it was happening - except he did it. On his first day of school he told anyone that would listen that he "had mohawk hair and it was cool." That's absolutely cool, buddy.

Children spend more than 7 hours per day in front of a screen (TV, computer, video games, etc.).- Dowshen, 2015. Unplugging has been shown to help improve quality of life, help you feel more recharged everyday, help you sleep better, and improve your interpersonal communication.

I'm sure I sound goofy. I know Ramya didn't work on sensory issues with Ben, but he's so different after a summer with her. Just because a child can talk doesn't mean he can communicate and for the first time ever - that's exactly what he's doing. I have to think that being able to express yourself and have your wants and needs addressed has to enable you to focus on other things to some extent. He went through a summer with an ABA therapist attending camp with him and didn't have growth like this. I wasn't there with them so I can't tell you specifically what makes Ramya so special, but I can tell you she gave me the gift of FINALLY really getting to know my son, straight from his mouth, at age 6 and that is the best gift I will ever get. We have been so lucky to be able to provide Ben with private therapies, camps, field trips, and NWSRA and park district outings along with him being placed in a mainstream classroom but he has never had progress like this in such a short amount of time. Even his therapists have commented on how different he is now vs the start of the summer. Ramya is truly something special.


I appreciate your time and I'm sorry this was so long. I just never thought I would see what I saw this summer and it's honestly because of Ramya. She mentioned she would be coming back for the summer - I would love to have her work with Ben again, if possible. Either way - thank you for the work you do. We had an amazing summer because of you and Ramya. :)

NWSRA provides children with special needs opportunities to have fun, make friends, go new places, learn new things, be included and celebrate their lives. However, even though NWSRA keeps costs as affordable as possible, it is still out of reach for some families. SLSF, the fundraising arm of NWSRA, provides scholarships to those in need. Be a part of a child’s amazing experience by donating to SLSF.

  • $25 will send a child to camp for 1 day
  • $125 will send a child to camp for 1 week
  • $500 will send a child to camp for 1 month
  • $1000 will send a child to camp for the summer

If you wish to be a part of a child’s ability to grow, learn and develop this summer, please join our mission by making a donation today.

Thank you.