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Spotlight on an Inclusion-Based After School Program!

Afterschool programs can provide great experiences for individuals on the autism spectrum. As the school year begins, we wanted to highlight programs throughout this week from around the country to give you and your families a glimpse into various types of programs available for the autism community. You can also search our online Resource Guide for afterschool programs in your area!

Autism Foundation of the Carolinas' Inclusion-Based Afterschool Enrichment Program for Children with Autism

A 2008 Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grant recipient

About the Program

​The Autism Foundation of the Carolinas (AFC) works with the Greater YMCA of Charlotte and Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) System to provide Charlotte’s only inclusion-based afterschool enrichment program for children with autism. 

Our afterschool program offers a balance of educational and recreational support while providing a safe, nurturing and enriching environment to meet each child’s unique needs. We are able to tailor the program for each child given the program’s ratio of 1 teacher to every 3 participants.  The focus is on independent functional living skills and self-management skills.  Most importantly, the program is cost-effective and fun!

The benefits of this program reach well beyond the children and families dealing with autism. In pairing each affected child with both a typical peer and a high school volunteer, we facilitate opportunities to teach patience, acceptance and understanding.

Ultimately, this program is about changing both the lives of those affected by autism and those who would not typically have this unique experience! The sample daily schedule below will give you an idea of the elements that make this program a success!

Sample Daily Schedule

Inclusion Opportunity

  • Recreational play with children in the Y’s typical after school program
  • If needed, quiet place or structured play area to transition from the school day

Reverse Inclusion for Snack

  • Smaller group setting
  • Structured environment to work on life skills
  • Emphasis on communication and socialization

Homework Assistance 

  • Supervised reverse inclusion for those with academic homework assignments
  • One on one with staff for those working on their CMS Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or parent directed goals

Structured Enrichment Activities

  • Reverse inclusion
  • Smaller group setting
  • Specials include: Art, Science, Music, Coo king, Gardening

Inclusion Opportunity for All 

  • Recreational play with children in the Y’s typical after school program
  • If needed, quiet place or structured play area to relax

All of these activities contribute to making this inclusion-based program a beneficial and rewarding experience for both individuals on the spectrum and their peers!


From a parent of a child with autism: "Our son loved being at afterschool. I think we see the best in him in your programs, staffed with people who are trained on his strengths and challenges and allow him to interact with other neurotypical kids. All I can say is we loved it so much we want more!"
– Steph, mother of a kindergartener

From a peer parent: "Through the program, Bridget has gained a sense of responsibility with learning to help others. Her leadership qualities have increased along with her confidence. She wants to continue staying in the program since she has developed friendships."
– Bridget’s Mom (Bridget is a 3rd grader)

Learn more about the Afterschool Inclusion Based Enrichment Program here!

Contact Autism Foundation of the Carolinas for more information at at or 704-776-0685.

Click here to search our online Resource Guide for an afterschool program in your area!

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.