Once the school year is over, many families with children on the autism spectrum are stumped. Even if your child qualifies for Extended School Year programs, those programs are limited in length and unlikely to include fun recreational activities.
Luckily, quite a few camps cater to kids with autism. Less luckily, many of the camps listed in the directories listed below are quite expensive. To find day camps and/or less expensive options, check your local camp listings and fairs, and be sure to contact your local YMCA and/or Jewish Community Center (JCC).
This general camp directory includes three pages of camps that are specifically geared to kids with autism spectrum disorders.
OASIS is a comprehensive website for Asperger Syndrome, and their camp listings are fairly extensive. Be aware that they do skew toward programs that are appropriate for higher functioning kids.
This is a nice collection of camps compiled and listed by the father of a child with special needs. The site also includes links to similar directories.
Easter Seals provides summer camps and recreational programs for children and adults of all abilities. These programs are geared solely to people with special needs, which means they are not inclusive.
Schwablearning is a website dedicated to learning disorders and attention deficit disorder. But as most parents of kids with autism know, there's a lot of overlap among kids with learning and social differences. The database is fairly extensive and worth checking out.
Very Special Camps is a website dedicated entirely to listings of special needs camps. They list several dozen camps around the country that are specifically dedicated to kids on the autism spectrum.
YMCA camps are not specifically geared to special needs, but most will work hard to find a way to include your child. If you're more interested in day camp than residential camp, contact your local YMCA.
This is another general camp directory, but it includes an impressive collection of camps and programs specifically geared to kids on the autism spectrum. Search by state.
Like the YMCA, the JCC strives to include people of all abilities in its programs. Some JCC camps (like the one in Medford, N.J.) have terrific support for inclusion. Others are more than willing to admit your child with a 1:1 aide. And some will work with you to include your child without special support. To find a local JCC camp, call your local JCC.
I've never experienced this organization's special needs family wilderness programs, but gave them a call and found that they are knowledgeable about and accommodating to the needs of autistic people. Accommodations include picture boards and visual supports, special menu planning, and up-front interviews with families to ensure that all needs are met.