Search and Filters
Search and Filters
Summer camp can be a positive and enriching experience for children on the autism spectrum, providing an alternative to the rigorous school year routine and opportunities for peer interactions. However, finding the right fit for your child can be intimidating and does require research and planning - here are some steps to help get you started.
Availability of summer camps for children with autism can vary from state to state, but there are some common structures. Ultimately, you are the expert on your child, and it is important to articulate what your goals are for this summer experience. Are you looking for a program that is mostly fun and social, or are you hoping your child will gain and maintain skills that require therapy-based instruction? Are you seeking to “mainstream” them with typically developing children, or do you think they would benefit from a cohort of children who share similar needs and goals?
One of the best ways to locate a good summer camp program is to talk to other parents who have children with autism or to ask therapists or special education teachers. Having a recommendation from a trusted source that a camp has a high quality program for your child is invaluable.
Also, various online resources are available to guide you through the process of identifying programs that may match your needs in your area, and community and support groups are also great places to start. If you find the name of a camp in your area through an online source, ask that camp to provide you with two references to contact so that you can speak to other parents about their experiences with the camp.
Summer camp is a great opportunity for a child with autism to gain new experiences and make fond memories, and finding the right match requires finding a camp that is willing to get to know and understand your child and your family. Wherever you end up sending your child to camp, they should show willingness and excitement to partner with your family to ensure that your child has a warm and positive experience.
Sample Questions for Camps:
One major aspect of camp to consider is how to pay for it, as camp can be expensive. There are grants and scholarships available to families to help ease the burden of providing a high quality experience for your child.
Once you choose a camp and register your child, you’ll want to begin thinking about how to prepare them for transitioning into a new routine. Downloading the resource below can help you prepare your child for the new sensory stimuli and situations that camp provides, and can help you alleviate some of the anxiety that often accompanies a transition for children with ASD.
Lauren Panzano was a middle school classroom teacher and school administrator for several years, and now works as an curriculum specialist and executive functioning coach with students in the Boston area. She has worked in several types of special education inclusion programs, and is passionate about creating a school environment in which all students can thrive. She believes that the more we understand the assets and needs of the children in our care, the better we can nurture their development. Lauren is a graduate of Brandeis University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Language and Literacy program.