For 21 years, Tallahassee-based Therapy Intensive Programs, Inc. (TIP) has been providing an innovative therapy program for autistic children and their families called Kris’ Camp. The camps are named after Kris Moore (5/30/1988 – 11/9/1993), a wonderful little boy who touched many people in his brief life. Kris, the son of camp founder Kathy Berger and Will Moore, suffered from infantile spasms (a form of epilepsy) and died from head injuries sustained in a fall.
This summer, TIP will host a 5-day Kris’ Camp From July 11-17 at Lakeside Resort in Smithville, Tennessee, near Nashville, just a five hour drive from the Indianapolis area. The Kris’ Camp approach is competency-based on a “least to most” amount of facilitation and looking at autism as a movement disorder. Kris’ Camp hires licensed professional therapists from the following fields: art, education, music, occupational, physical and speech. They are supported by assistants who are working on degrees in one of those fields or who have had experience working with special needs children.
Welcome to Therapy Camp
The Kris’ Camp therapy programs provide individualized therapy programs, drawing on one or more of the following disciplines and provided by licensed and experienced professionals: art/art therapy, neurologic music therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech/language therapy, vision therapy and education.
Parents have an important role in establishing therapy goals, and have many opportunities to interact with therapists throughout the camp sessions. The therapy focuses on building relationships with a strong sensorimotor component and a 1:1 therapist/child ratio. Each therapy program typically enrolls between 6 – 9 children, depending on staff availability and the overall needs of the children.
Therapy camps involve the entire family; the core five days of Kris’ Camp are therapy / sibling camp days. Therapy campers participate in 6 hours per day of intensive one-on-one (some groups for the older campers) therapies, while their siblings can attend sibling camp.
Parents are provided with respite during this time, and pick their kids up at the end of each therapy day. Opportunities are provided to meet with other parents and staff in a relaxed environment via three group dinners and a Wine & Cheese party.
Towards the end of camp, parent/staff meetings are held to discuss each child’s work and progress during camp, and to make and discuss recommendations for follow through after camp.
Cost, Scholarships, and How to Apply
The cost of the camp is $2150, plus lodging. A $250.00 deposit is required at the time of registration to reserve your place. Tuition cost includes 5 days/ 30 hours of therapy (sensory motor and communication based), a sibling camp, three group dinners, a wine and cheese “brain talk,” and an hour long meeting at the end of the week with the therapists summarizing recommendations based on parent/child goals.
Registration typically begins in January or February. All Initial Registration Forms with deposits postmarked by the registration date will be given equal priority; those postmarked after the registration date will be processed in the order they are received.
Contact the Camp Director if you have questions about whether your child & family can benefit from Kris’ Camp/ NOTE: All new families MUST contact Kris’ Camp before signing up.
To register for the July 11-17 Kris’ Camp in Smithville, TN:
- Download and complete the Initial Registration Form.
DOWNLOAD: Initial Registration Form. (PDF opens in new window)
- Mail your Initial Registration form and $250 deposit to the mailing address:
Kris’ Camp/Therapy Intensive Programs, Inc
1132 Green Hill Trace
Tallahassee, FL 32317Camp staff will contact you upon receipt of your application to discuss lodging and answer any questions.
- The Complete Therapy Camp Application (available below) and 50% of your tuition is due no later than 60 days prior to your camp session. The remainder of tuition is due 30 days prior to your camp session.
DOWNLOAD: Therapy Camp Application (PDF opens in new window)
Kris’ Camp offers partial scholarships/financial aid to eligible families based on income in order to aid with tuition fees. Scholarship/financial aid applications must be postmarked no later than March 30th of each year for consideration. Upon submission of a financial aid application and following the deadline, a staff member will contact you regarding the amount, if any, of scholarship to be awarded.
Most scholarships will be partial in nature, and generally only cover a portion (between 8 – 35%) of the total tuition & lodging costs for campers. Families are expected to seek out additional sources early on in the year to supplement their Kris’ Camp scholarships. By seeking out additional sources early on in the process, many families have been able to come up with most or all of the tuition fees to attend camp. For more information about scholarships and additional funding source, click here.
Click here to download the camp scholarship application form. Remember, the deadline for submission is March 30th.
Lakeside Resort is situated amid 139 acres, in Smithville, Tennessee, overlooking Center Hill Lake, one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers most beautiful lakes, with over 400 miles of largely undeveloped shoreline (less than 1%).
Families will stay in cabins at the beautiful resort, which should range between $700-$900 for the week. The slideshow below tours the two-bedroom/one-bath Ash Suite, which meets ADA accessibility requirements and can accommodate up to seven people. Larger three-bedroom cabins are also available.
For more information about accommodations and available amenities, visit the Lakeside Resort website.
DOWNLOAD: Lakeside Resort Spring/Summer Brochure (PDF opens in new window)
Kris’ Camp’s Philosophy
Kris’ Camp’s therapeutic philosophy has evolved from the professional experience of some of the core therapists in combination with the founder’s goals and direction in starting Kris’ Camp. They do not adhere to one particular school of thought related to treatment, but utilize a positive approach based on several empirical findings and theories. The staff treats autism as a cognitive motor/sensory processing disorder:
- Cognitive motor: the inability to initiate, sustain, inhibit, or transition movement efficiently.
- Sensory processing: some brain pathways are strong for persons with autism, while others are less efficiently connected. When campers are provided with sensory supports that take advantage of well connected brain pathways, they are able to regulate and modulate their motor output more effectively and thus able to demonstrate more of their true potential. Trainers look at behaviors as communication and assess whether or not an individual’s self-initiated seeking of sensory input is an effective means of system organization. If not, they assist the individual in identifying a more appropriate accommodation for their daily life.
The training staff’s approach is a positive, competency-based one in which they provide the least amount of assistance possible to promote the child’s independence and rely on their strengths to promote future successes. Within this framework, the parents are encouraged to lead trainers in the treatment direction through their written/verbal input. Their goals and input then become the focus for treatment during the week.
The idea that autism is a movement disorder has been historically controversial, possibly because the movement difficulties are more cognitive in nature than what would typically be thought of when describing a movement disorder. The best description of the movement disorder seen in autism is a disorder of praxis. Praxis is the ability to learn and perform a skilled movement. While many children with autism can learn a particular motor skill, the ability to generalize this can be limited, and the child can find himself ‘stuck’ in this pattern.
Treatment Components of Kris’ Camp training include:
(links open in new tabs/windows)
- Positive Approach/Empowering the child
- Understanding Autism as a Movement Regulation Disorder – Least to Most Strategy
- Sensory/Motor Integration
- Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT)
- Competency-Based Communication
- Augmentative Communication/Pointing Methods
- Provision of Family and Therapist Support