According to the Autism Support Network website, social skills are the most important thing to work on with your autistic child. The website also states that special interest activities significantly improve the happiness of autistic youth. In and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, several overnight camps are available for teens with autistic spectrum disorder. These programs teach social skills and include exciting activities. Your teen will make friends, learn, and have a ton of fun at overnight camp.
1. Camp Fireflies
Camp Fireflies is located in Mercer, Pennsylvania, about 65 miles north of Pittsburgh. Teenagers who have been diagnosed with autism or other social-cognitive challenges can attend. Siblings are also welcome. This overnight summer camp is situated on 289 acres of lush woods with comfortable cabins. Camp includes three meals and a snack in the dining hall. Counselors encourage trying new food, but keep camper favorites on hand in case teens are not in the mood. The highly structured days include social thinking group time, crafts, swimming in the Junior Olympic Pool, sports, hiking and campfires.
2. Camp Amp
Easter Seals of Western Pennsylvania hosts Camp Amp at Camp Allegheny in Stoystown. Located about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Camp Amp is a week-long, co-ed, overnight summer camp and respite program. Youth with any disability or special need, including autism, will create friendships and have a blast at camp. Campers range in age from seven through 17. Exciting activities include hiking, swimming, mini-golf, scaling the climbing wall, nature walks, arts projects, games, evening events and campfires.
3. The Watson Institute Overnight Respite Programs
The Watson Institute offers Overnight Respite Programs in camp-like settings. Youth ages 5 to 21 with autism, developmental disabilities and neurological impairments can attend. Overnight sessions are held six times a year, from Saturday mornings through Sunday afternoons. The programs are located either at The Watson Institute in Sewickley or at The Woodlands, near Wexford. Teens socially interact with a varied group of ages and abilities. Engaging, supervised activities include music, nature walks, sports, crafts, reading and swimming. The program was created with parents or caregivers in mind, allowing the important opportunity to tend to their own personal needs.
4. ACHIEVA Camp Weekends
ACHIEVA, a provider of services and support for people with disabilities and their families, offers Camp Weekends most weekends September through June. Teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities can camp Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. Locations differ monthly and include Camp Fitch on Lake Erie, Camp Guyasuta in Pittsburgh, Oglebay in the mountains of West Virginia, and Raccoon State Park in Hookstown. Depending on the location, camper activities can include zoo trips, hiking, swimming, fishing, hayrides, shopping, movies or dance parties. The activities are staffed by volunteers.
- ACHIEVA: Recreational Activities in Beaver and Westmoreland Counties
- The Watson Institute: CareBreak and Respite Programs
- Easter Seals Disability Services Easter Seals Western and Central Pennsylvania: Camp Amp
- Camp Fireflies: About
- Autism Support Network: Five Tips for a Happy Future for Kids With Autism by Dr. Krysti DeZonia
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