Aspen, Colorado is home to many popular skiing, hiking and snow-boarding resorts and programs. Now it is also home to Extreme Sports Camp- a sleep-away camp for children and teens with autism.
The program was founded in 2004 by Sallie Bernard who wanted her son Bill, who is diagnosed with autism, to enjoy the same opportunities as his brothers.
“Sometimes we get so focused on academics, behavior, or speech that we forget our children are people who have an inner life and need diverse experiences just like anyone else,” Sallie says. “If anything, children with autism need even more opportunities than typical children to access enough essential bridges to adulthood.”
Extreme Sports Camp offers winter and summer programs teaching attendees sports like skiing, rock-climbing, kayaking and other extreme sports. The counselor to camper ratio is higher than 1:1, and all counselors are certified sports instructors who have extensive training in working with those on the autism spectrum.
Activity-based socializing can be incredibly beneficial to individuals with autism, according to Dr. Stephen Shore, member of ICare4Autism’s Advisory Council; ICare4Autism is a non-profit partner organization of Shema Kolainu.
“Those of us on the spectrum will be much more successful in gatherings that are activity-based, and it may become a special interest,” Dr. Shore said in a Google Hangout with ICare4Autism.
Sallie expresses a similar notion about the benefits of her camp in Aspen.
“At camp, everyone is new and the playing field is level,” Sallie says. “Everyone has a chance to be good at something and not good at something, to mentor someone else and be mentored, to be a potential friend.”
To watch the highlights of ICare4Autism’s Google Hangout with Dr. Shore, follow the link here: http://www.icare4autism.org/news/2013/12/dr-stephen-shore-speaks-on-autism-workforce/