Got Autism? Get Moving!
Imagine a ski vacation where everyone in the family is having fun and learning to ski—including your child with autism. Through its Autism Skis program, Extreme Sports Camp of Aspen, Colorado teaches children and adults all across the autism spectrum how to ski or snowboard. From novice to advanced, it caters to any athletic ability—even couch potatoes and video game junkies find themselves having an exhilarating time.
Extreme Sports Camp trains its professional ski instructors in autism-friendly teaching approaches. The instructors are supported by ski buddies who are autism specialists, there to nurture social and emotional competence and enable more complex motor movements. An extensive intake process with the family allows staff to understand the optimal behavior, communications and sensory strategies of each camper. After an initial assessment, an individualized, goal-directed ski curriculum including longitudinal, itemized data collection of progress is implemented. Participants are challenged yet savor success, leading to increased self-esteem and appreciation of the outdoors and an active lifestyle.
“Our son has benefited enormously from participating in Extreme Sports Camp for the past two years. His confidence and sense of independence has risen significantly,” says one parent testimonial. “At ESC he felt really welcome, included, and part of a family.”
The Autism Skis natural classroom is in the world-class, family-friendly ski resort of Snowmass, Colorado. Its many ski runs, lifts and gondolas, wooded trails, restaurants, and relaxing after-ski entertainment provide endless opportunities for social engagement and peer interaction, as well as for quiet and solitude.
“We’re especially excited about our newest peer mentorship programs,” says executive director Deb Sullivan Gravelle. “Working in conjunction with our sports instruction program, local students participate in our après-ski activities with campers in a similar age bracket. Some of our campers participate in mainstream ski lessons with the aid of a 1:1 ski buddy. These programs build our campers’ social skills and expand understanding and acceptance of autism.”
Ski programs run from when the lifts open at Thanksgiving until mid-April. Scholarships and family stay options are available. For more information or to register, visit extremesportscamp.org/winter-programs.