Summer camp can be a fun and exciting experience for children and adults with autism. Families can search for accredited summer camps on the American Camp Association website – they have thousands of listings, and there is an option to specify that you are looking for a camp serving children or young adults with autism.
Autism Speaks is committed to promoting inclusion of children and adults with autism across all programs and organizations for families. Leading the Way: Autism-Friendly Youth Organizations is a guide to help organizations learn to integrate youth with autism into existing programs, communicate with parents, and train their staff. Please feel free to share this guide with any camps, sports programs, or other youth organizations your son might be interested in.
If you are looking for funding or financial assistance, many camps will offer tuition/fees on a sliding scale relative to your income. You can also find Family Grant Opportunities on our website.
Another option to consider is requesting an Extended School Year (ESY) program through your child’s school district or at the next IEP meeting. If there is evidence that a child experiences a substantial regression in skills during school vacations, he/she may be entitled to ESY services. These services would be provided over long breaks from school (summer vacation) to prevent substantial regression. This is usually discussed during annual IEP reviews but if you are concerned about regression, now is the best time to bring it up with your child’s team at school. Some children attend the camps listed in our Resource Guide as part of their Extended School Year (ESY) program.
Another good resource is MyAutismTeam, a social network specifically for parents of individuals with autism. Join more than 40,000 parents from all parts of the country and find parents whose children are similar to yours or who live near you, get tips and support, ask questions, and exchange referrals on great providers, services, and camps for your child.
Families can also reach out to the state’s Parent Training and Information Center to find additional information and support in their local areas.