Some kids spend the summer learning archery, the backstroke or tennis. Some children with autism are working this summer on their social skills – an area where autistic people often need help.
The Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in Nashville is holding a Social Skills Summer Camp this summer. Campers 7 to 11 years old work on basic social skills; 12- to 14-year-old campers continue to learn social skills and build on them with field trips; campers 15 to 21 years old learn social skills and early on-the-job skills.
In Wisconsin, a group of parents, teachers and others started an 8-week Social Summer Experience for autistic children. And The Autism Project in Rhode Island is offering a variety of social skills classes for children on the autism spectrum this summer.
In Lawrence, Kansas, a high school for autistic students offers a summer course on socialization with field trips to a variety of community settings.
From an outsider’s point of view, the scene looked pretty chaotic as students and staff from Free State High School’s summer autism program took a trip to a restaurant.
Of the dozen students on the outing, several were yelling, one was crying, and others expressed emphatically that they simply didn’t want to eat there.
One by one, staff members worked to calm the students.
The program and the community outings are all part of social skills lessons the program emphasizes during the summer months when the students are away from regularly scheduled classes.
“These kids need to be out in the community as much as anybody else,” said staff member Emily Hughes. “Our biggest goal is to help them learn how to be independent.”