Autistic Community Activity Program (ACAP) was founded in 1987 by a group of parents and supportive professionals looking for summer services and recreation appropriate for their children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Finding none, this group started their own. Thus ACAP was born. Today ACAP continues its mission to provide education through recreation for children, and now adults, with autism.
Through it’s summer program day camps, ACAP offers a unique program which combines a classroom routine with daily recreational community activities and learning experiences. ACAP integrates people with ASD into the community by providing support and structure in a variety of settings, while teaching necessary community behaviors (waiting in line, understanding community signs, taking turns, appropriate voice volume, etc.) to help all campers make positive strides in learning and adapting. This program also allows families opportunity for support and respite.
Services focus on communication skills, life skills, relationship development, social skills, travel training, and teaching appropriate community behaviors, among others. These are vital but much-neglected behaviors and skills which those with ASD must be deliberately taught (instead of achieving through observation, as non-disabled groups do.) To the growing population of people with ASD and their families, ACAP provides critical support, empowering them to become as self-sufficient as possible.
ACAP serves people with ASD, ages 7+ into adulthood, running for seven weeks in the summer. Campers are grouped with others of similar ages and abilities. We operate our program from three different sites, located in Beaverton, Milwaukie and East Portland. Camp hours are 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Classrooms are staffed with Teachers and Teachers Assistants. Assistants are Educational Assistants experienced in local school districts, college students studying in the field, and others interested in learning more about ASD. All staff complete a week-long training program specific to ACAP, along with ongoing individualized training. Each classroom has approximately 10 students, one teacher, and a number of assistants appropriate to the needs of the campers. With a staff-to-camper ratio from 1:1 to 1:2, ACAP can meet its commitment to the safety and educational needs of all campers.
Teachers apply their own versions of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Floor-time, Structured Teaching, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) and sensory strategies, as needed and adapted for each camper. Each classroom group has morning calendar time, work time and leisure/choice time, when children practice social skills. Groups then go out into the community via TriMet and Max to the day’s activity. Both classroom and community activities are designed around the needs and abilities of each group.
Community activities include trips to Oregon Zoo, public swimming pools, OMSI, the Children’s Museum, tours of businesses throughout the city, community events and local parks. Classrooms make weekly trips to various restaurants to practice ordering and restaurant skills. All activities are designed to support IEP goals and facilitate learning. Visuals, schedules, trip books, “T” charts, Social Stories and other supports are used to help each child to function as independently as possible. Journals are kept by campers, to document the day’s activity and share with family members at home. Groups return to ACAP in the afternoon to review and complete the day by 3:00pm.
ACAP provides the opportunity for people with ASD
to have important community experiences.