Children with autism often have special requirements when it comes to summer activities and programs. There are some excellent options available in the Richmond area, including those that focus on music, art, outdoor activities, sports, and more.

Keep in mind that these programs may not necessarily fit your needs, so make sure to check out their offerings, activities, and other details to determine whether they’re suitable for you and your children.

Blackwater Outdoor Experiences

Focused on experiential therapy, BOE strives to create experiences that promote growth in self-confidence and self-discipline, social skills, personal responsibility, values, personal strength, and much more. The overall approach includes a proffered hand, an easy smile, and a willingness to listen.

The entire program is centered on treating each participant as a person, rather than as a patient. BOE programs have been specifically designed to help with recognizing and building on inherent personal strengths in order to counterbalance areas of relative struggle.

Piano Foundations for Children with Autism

Piano Foundationsoffers piano education for children of any age that have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), or PDD (Pervasive Development Disorder). A customized program can help children learn the basics of piano to the best of their ability, including:

  • How to read music
  • How to keep rhythm
  • Listening for instructions, music changes, and more
  • The proper posture and hand position for a piano player
  • Other skills, as appropriate for skill level and behavioral considerations

CAMPFREE2BME

A unique day-camp opportunity for autistic children eight years of age and older, there’s a new skill highlighted each week at CampFree2BMe. Each week’s skill is reinforced with art, projects for groups, music, specially-themed activities, and projects for individual campers.

There are two age groups available, with the Junior Camp serving 8 to 12 year olds and the Senior Camp serving kids 13 and over. Senior campers have the opportunity to practice their newly-acquired skills in the local community three or four days each week.

The program focuses on building personal strength, improving social skills, and acquiring new skills for a brighter future, all while making great friends and having a fun and exciting time.

Voices Together

A day camp specifically designed for kids with ASD, Voices Together gives campers the chance to swim, sing, play, and create. With both indoor and outdoor activities, and a staff sure to make the experience unforgettable for every kid, it’s an excellent option for creating memories and exploring new skills and settings.

Miracles in Motion

Dance has long been used as therapy in a variety of situations, and Miracles in Motion is designed especially to accommodate adults and children with special needs.

Touching on a variety of genres like ballet, jazz, creative movement, tap, and musical theater, it’s focused on inclusive mentoring and peer modeling during both sessions (which are re-structured as necessary to meet the needs of every participating dancer) and recitals. Miracles in Motion offers a learning experience that is both fun and focused on positive reinforcement.

YMCA EveryBuddy Camp

Activities like kayaking and canoeing, along with pools, hiking, and a hundred acres of natural beauty are offered at the YMCA EveryBuddy Camp. EveryBuddy gives campers a more traditional day camp experience that includes an array of activities and swim lessons, too. Lots of fun and precious memories are sure to make EveryBuddy Camp the highlight of your child’s summer.

SPARC’s LIVE ART

This program offers cutting-edge arts education that integrates a curriculum of performing arts with elements of special education to allow performers to create art pieces that have an unparalleled ability to tug at the heart strings.

In the unique LIVE ART program, students (no matter their disability or lack thereof) work together to rehearse their performances, cultivate relationships with one another, and embrace the ACE curriculum, focused on acceptance, compassion, and empathy.

SPARC’s program is now celebrating its fifth year and will follow previous years in performing its huge annual show that features performers and recording artists of regional and national fame, along with performing and visual arts from each class.

Finding the Right Summer Program

The programs listed above are just a sampling of those available in the Richmond area. For families that are managing autism, finding a good day camp can be an exhausting process. Rest assured, though, that plenty of them exist and there’s sure to be at least one that will make your little one smile.

For more information or help finding the right summer activity for your child, contact us online or give us a call at 804-521-5571.

Comments (2)


  1. Zachary attends Sarah Dooley Center for Autism. How can I go about signing him up for some of these activities?

    • Paul, thanks for your message. We suggest contacting these organizations individually about registration. Links to their websites are in the article. We hope Zachary finds something he enjoys!

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