The Knapp Center Summer Camp Program is designed for high functioning children with autism spectrum disorder who require social skills intervention in an inclusive setting. This program provides an ideal setting for addressing peer interactions, social communication, development of interactive play skills, and engagement in group activities. Summer camp allows the freedom to forgo a narrow academic focus that is typically associated with extended school year (ESY) services and intensively concentrate on social skills—something that is often difficult to address adequately during the course of the school year. The Knapp Center Summer Camp Program offers a natural setting for addressing a broader range of social skills than possible in other typical environments. The Knapp Center has partnered with four summer camps in the local area for children to attend and receive therapeutic support for improving social skills.
Utilizing evidenced-based methodology of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the Knapp Center Summer Camp Program affords children with autism the opportunity to participate in an inclusive social experience with therapeutic support. The goals of the program are to improve social functioning of children with autism, with an emphasis on friendship development and pragmatic language.
Children with autism spectrum disorder, ages 3-13 years.
Each child in the program is served 1:1 by a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). Educational background of RBTs includes bachelor degrees in psychology, education or a related field. Each child in the program is also assigned a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who supervises the RBT and the treatment of the child. BCBAs provide direct care and supervision weekly to each child 1-2 times per week. Finally, there is a Coordinator of the program (a BCBA) and executive director of the Knapp Center who provides oversight of the program.
The agencies involved in making this program a success are the Knapp Center for Childhood Development and the local camp programs. The Knapp Center provides the experts in autism to ensure that programming is tailored to meet each child’s needs. The camps offer a setting for the children to have fun and promote implementation of social skills. In addition, Autism Speaks, a national leading organization in autism research and treatment, provided Dr. Julie Knapp (when Dr. Knapp was on staff at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism), a grant that offered seed money for this innovative treatment approach. Because of this generous grant, this program could be created and made affordable for participating families. The Knapp Center team then replicated the program at the Knapp Center for Childhood Development.
To read more about the camp program, please see the article co-authored by Dr. Knapp and her colleagues.