Summer Programs for Kids with Autism in Chicago

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects families all over the world with males having a higher chance of getting autism over females. At this point, most people are familiar with that statistic that 1 in 68 school age children are affected by autism, according to the CDC. Those school age children access a variety of programs throughout the school year - everything from education, to social groups, to therapy.

Chicago provides a variety of medical therapy support systems for people affected by autism throughout the year. However, when kids get out of school, parents are often left to find new and exciting resources for their kids.

Below are a few summer programs and resources for those seeking autism services in Chicago.

AUTISM FAMILY CENTER:

Autism Family Center’s summer program last year.
Autism Family Center’s summer program last year.

Autism Family Center offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach. Services stem from two disciplines - Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Counseling. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the systematic application of interventions to improve socially significant behaviors. While Clinical Counseling uses a variety of therapeutic techniques which create a safe, supportive environment to treat stress, anxiety, mood, communication and family support.

Jason Lewis (Autism Family Center - Director of Marketing): Can you tell me about Autism Family Center and what services the company offers?

Lauren Rabin (Autism Family Center - Founder and CEO):

Autism Family Center (AFC) is an organization that provides therapeutic services for kids, teens, and adults with autism. We offer a comprehensive program that emphasizes each unique individual and family goals. All programs emphasize two important therapeutic components for autism - Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Clinical Counseling for the entire family. Our most popular programs are our center-based programs, the Day Program, After School Program, and Summer Program.

JL: What made you want to start Autism Family Center and be in this space?

LR: I wanted to create one common space where families could find a completely comprehensive program. We offer multiple different therapies that can be tailored to each individual and family.

Most importantly, we emphasize the center-based approach which creates a unique community for our kiddos, their families, and the staff. We really are a family and that was always the number one goal.

JL: When was Autism Family Center established?

LR: We officially opened in 2013. Now we have centers in Winnetka and in the West Loop of Chicago.

JL: What summer programs does Autism Family Center offer?

LR: Kids & teens need to have the opportunity to be kids and take a true summer break. Our activity schedule during our Summer Program emphasizes the importance of a fun, structured schedule.

Kids can always continue to learn through play and it is equally as important that they continue to maintain the skills they worked so hard to build during the academic school year.

Our Summer Program still emphasizes the unique therapeutic goals of each child. Our kids always have a 1:1 counselor. Our program is not limited to their functioning level or age. Rather, our participants are paired based on many factors such as skill level, age, common interests, and common goals.

JL: Do you only accept insurance payments or would you accept out-of-pocket payments?

LR: Out of pocket payments are accepted but not recommended. We accept Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, United, Optum, and Harken.

JL: What is one surprising fact about Autism Family Center that most people do not know?

LR: We go on as many field trips as possible and bring different unique specialists to our facility to keep our kids engaged and excited. For example, we bring in musicians to play for and interact with our kids and next week we have a muralist coming to paint a mural on one of our walls with the inclusion of our kids. We do not limit our students based on their diagnosis. We try to show them the time of their lives while they also work hard to increase skills and work toward their individual goals. Our kids & teens love coming to the center. Their parents get to watch their kids develop, while their kids also have a great time and make new friends.

If you are interested in setting up a consultation, please fill out our Intake Form and submit it back to us. We will be in contact with you shortly thereafter!

More information is available by contacting:

Lauren Rabin

Autism Family Center | CEO, Founder

EYAS LANDING:

Eyas Landing is a week long camp with different themes (including sensory explorers, sports camp, nature explorers and bike riders). This is ideal for kids who are 3-10 years old. The next set of dates for our camp is June 26-Aug 25, 8:30-1:00, M-F, excluding the week of July 4.

Jason Lewis (Autism Family Center - Director of Marketing): What services does Eyas Landing offer in the summer for autistic kids?

Laura Mraz (Executive Director/Owner): Eyas Landing offers a 9-week therapeutic summer camp program for children ages 3-10 years. Our camps are taught by Occupational Therapists and include programs for all abilities. Camp sessions include a Zones of Regulation, Sensory Integration, Sports, Bike Riding, Handwriting, and Nature Exploration.

JL: What makes this program fun and unique for kids and teens this summer?

LM: Eyas Landing campers enjoy the facility's sensory gym, teen room, and rooftop nature deck. They also have access to Union Park and participate in daily outdoor activities. Each camper is assigned to an occupational therapist who oversees and supports the camper throughout their camp day. Our camps provide a unique opportunity for our clients to experience a supportive summer camp experience.

JL: What is the intake/onboarding process at the company?

LM: Eyas Landing camps fill up fast! In order to provide the best experience for your camper, an occupational therapy evaluation may be requested. Pre-registration is required. To sign up for camp or learn more information, please contact us at info@eyaslanding.com.

JL: Are you open to new patients?

LM: Eyas Landing is currently accepting new patients for our summer camp, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, developmental therapy and nutrition counseling.

More information is available by contacting:

Laura Mraz

312.733.0883

CHICAGO CHILDREN’S THEATRE:

Camp Red Kite is a summer arts camp through the Chicago Children’s Theatre tailored specifically to the unique interests and needs of children on the autism spectrum. Each day campers will attend drama, art, music and movement classes. Each camper receives plenty of personal attention. Camp culminates in a final showcase and potluck lunch. This is ideal for kids who are 8-22 years old. The next set of dates is August 7-25, M-F 8:30-12:30.

Jason Lewis (Autism Family Center - Director of Marketing): What types or genres of shows does Chicago Children’s Theatre offer in the summer for autistic kids? Are these sensory-friendly shows?

Patrick Pelz (Chicago Children’s Theatre - Director of Marketing and Communications): Chicago Children’s Theatre's Camp Red Kite is a summer arts camp tailored specifically to the unique interests and needs of children on the autism spectrum. The program is led by a team of artists, administrators, and special education teachers dedicated to creating a safe, welcoming, and comfortable environment for children affected by autism. Our aim is to foster a shared arts experience that encourages self-expression, social engagement, creative exploration, and above all, FUN!

Each day, Camp Red Kite campers move between classes in Drama, Art, Music and Movement. Red Kite staff ensures a comfortable environment for all campers and a highly structured schedule that is displayed pictorially in each room. Each camper receives plenty of personal attention and is encouraged to participate in activities in his or her own unique way. Camp culminates in a final showcase and potluck lunch to share the Camp Red Kite experience with family and friends.

JL: What makes this program fun and unique for kids and teens this summer?

PP: Since its launch in 2005, Chicago Children’s Theatre has cemented its reputation as the city’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families. The company evolved out of Chicago’s need for high-quality, professional year-round children’s programming to match the quality, and significance of theatrical powerhouses such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre. Likewise, CCT has always believed children should be treated as the sophisticated audiences that they are, showcasing high-profile and award-winning talent, inventive production values and compelling stories that challenge, educate and entertain.

Since its inception, the company’s productions have featured everything from black-light scenery to live music to interactive four-dimensional sets to life-size puppets, with performances showcasing the heart of Motown to Vaudeville to contemporary, current and modern styles. CCT has also built a national reputation due to its strong focus on new work, producing 15 world premieres in the last 10 years.

In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the company offers free tickets to more than 5,000 Chicago-area low-income students each season. Meanwhile, the company has pioneered immersive theater designed for children on the autism spectrum via its Red Kite Project, and recently expanded programming for children with impaired vision or hearing and Down’s syndrome. Chicago Children’s Theatre also offers a full roster of after-school theater classes and summer camps.

JL: What is one surprising fact about Chicago Children’s Theatre that most people don’t know?

PP: In 2010 Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell was appointed by the U.S. State Department to serve as Cultural Envoy to Canada for her work on Red Kite Project and was honored with the 2013 “Hero of the Year Award” from the Chicago chapter of Autism Speaks.

More information is available by contacting:

Patrick Pelz

773.227.0180

EASTERSEALS:

Camp FRIENDship at Easterseals is a camp designed to help kids acquire social skills in a positive learning environment. The camp is tailored for children on the autism spectrum or with nonverbal learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities or social skills deficits. This is ideal for kids who are 5-14 years old. The next set of dates for camp in Chicago is June 26 - June 30.

Jason Lewis (Autism Family Center - Director of Marketing): What services does Easterseals offer in the summer for children with autism?

Kaitlin Fox (Easterseals - Autism Outreach Coordinator):

Easterseals Camp FRIENDship is a summer camp designed to help children ages 5 to 14 acquire social skills within a positive, safe and fun learning environment. The camp is tailored for children with autism spectrum disorder, non-verbal learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities and children with similar social skills deficits.

JL: What makes this program fun and unique for kids and teens this summer?

KF: Campers participate in a variety of fun social activities, including in-camp field trips. Campers receive social skills training from staff members highly trained and well educated in this field. Peer campers are integrated into the camp to encourage all campers to interact throughout the day. Staff members develop and implement lesson plans based on social skills curriculum to ensure the needs of all campers are met. All campers are required to participate in a pre-camp assessment in order to develop individual goals and drive programming.

JL: What is the intake/onboarding process at the company?

KF:

Easterseals has 20 programs in 10 locations located throughout Chicagoland and Rockford. We offer a wide-range of programs, some of which include therapeutic schools, adult programs, and consultative services for individuals living with autism spectrum disorder and other intellectual disabilities, inclusive early childhood education, early intervention, home visiting, training and more. The intake process for each of our programs is different. To learn more about our programs and enrollment, visit our website at eastersealschicago.org.

JL: Are you open to new clients?

KF: Yes, Easterseals programs accepts new students and clients based on availability and enrollment criteria. To learn more about our enrollment processes, please visit our website at eastersealschicago.org

More information is available by contacting:

Katie Fox

872.216.7470

Article Written By:

Jason S. Lewis

Autism Family Center

Director of Marketing

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