Many families ask us how our program creates the social growth and increased self-confidence for ASD teens. Some of the most important work that we do occurs in the non-summer months when we set up the structure of our programming. We recently read this Harvard Business Education article about supporting neurodivergent learners in classrooms. The articles affirmed some of the practices we utilize at camp to create successful experiences for ASD teens.
Creating Community Before Arrival
Helping teens feel comfortable BEFORE they arrive is essential to our process. We meet with every teen before they arrive to go over the camp schedule. This ensures they know what to expect from the activities and when they will have downtime to recharge. Further, teens are invited to group hangouts over Zoom to connect with peers they will meet at camp. These steps, together, reduce the anxiety of teens upon their entry at camp. Most importantly, they increase their likelihood to take positive social risks which build lifelong connections.
Teens at Beyond Akeela are empowered to pursue their interests. Each camper selects activities, electives, community service options, and trips prior to their arrival. This increases their buy-in from the start, allowing them to get more out of the experience. Teens have a heightened sense of responsibility for their time at Beyond Akeela because they have selected a path that makes it their own experience.
Direct In-the-Moment Coaching
ASD Teens learn best by doing. At Beyond Akeela, they receive coaching from experienced staff mentors as they navigate their camp experience. Staff members develop rapport with teens quickly due to our 1:3 staff-to-camper ratio. Their relationship allows them to provide direct, honest, and compassionate social feedback to teens to enhance their social success. This same coaching model is applied to executive functioning skills such as time management, organization, and multi-step task completion.
You can learn more about the outcomes ASD Teens experience at Beyond Akeela here: Beyond Akeela Outcomes.