Recreation Therapy.

skiWe have 2 jobs, as almost every parent of an autistic child does. We all have our regular job and then another full time job taking our child to all of the therapies that they need. OT, speech and language, ABA … the list goes on, doesn’t it ?

Why then, look at yet another ? If it’s recreational therapy and it is part of your vacation, there’s every reason to do so. There are some great programs out there.  The choice can be between therapy programs that happen to be adventurous, through adventure programs that happen to be therapeutic, all the way to making the most of the recreational activities on a regular vacation.

Researchers state that physical recreation is especially beneficial to children, and adults, with autism. Because of the varied nature of abilities, it is a question of finding which activities work well for your child and which ones don’t. Here are some possibilities.

Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, Florida offers a variety of programs at . The centerpiece is a 5 day “Dolphin Time-out” program. The special guest gets 1:1 time in the water with a trained therapist and the dolphins plus time in the classroom. They have plenty of alternatives to the 5-day program. Each family must go through an application process which enables them to customize the therapy to the individual’s needs. Please note that some behaviors don’t quite cut it with the dolphins but IDC will advise as to suitability.

Benefits include, but are certainly not limited to, improvement in fine and gross motor skills, speech and language improvements (we still all have so much to learn from dolphins !) and improvements in executive functioning.

In order to assist families wanting to go to IDC, we are making the local hotels a top priority when we roll out our national “Autism Readiness” certification program. What could be better than an autism-friendly hotel close to this great facility ?

Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado offer summer and winter programs. That’s right, they are more than just skiing ! Obviously, they do offer all of the winter sports in season but there are so many possible activities for summer. Hippotherapy got into the top 10 list when parents were surveyed about the most effective programs that their children had undertaken. Guess what ? They have a horse riding program ! Of course, they have way more than that. If the art of finding the right recreational therapy is to try as many as possible, then this place fits the bill by offering so many choices. They are at :

Again the benefits can be wide ranging and include improvements in social and communication skills and improvements in executive functioning skills. There is one other, potentially huge, benefit to their summer program. To them summer is low season. If your child has issues with crowds and busy places, they have a lot of empty mountains and a whole lot of space !

This is another top-priority destination for our certification program for exactly the same reasons.

Of course, there are recreation opportunities in almost any vacation and, in order to find ones that suit your child’s abilities, the best choices will be those destinations that offer the widest variety of choices. Look for activities that you think might match your child’s strengths but don’t forget to look at a few that have the potential to turn into a pleasant surprise.

What about us ? (The parents, that is).

Everybody has their own reason for wanting a vacation. The two most often cited are the opportunity for a new, and memorable, experiences and the chance to relax.

How memorable would it be if your child got to experience and master some new activity that you had previously thought might not be possible ? Don’t we already celebrate each little improvement in their lives ?

Of course, take the chance to get some relaxation. Researchers at Brigham Young measured stress in mothers of children with special needs and found that it was at a comparable level with that of combat soldiers ! Whatever you do with your vacation, make sure that there’s some time for respite for you and the opportunity to relax. If your child can gain some new experiences and you get to relax, you’ve truly hit the jackpot.

We are working to add something special for parents on our staffed group vacations over and above the recreation and respite opportunities. We will be adding a daily parent-coaching-for-autism workshop. It will be included at no extra cost. These sessions will be conducted by a fully-certified parent coach.


Note about our post on Wandering. At the time of publication, we had been unable to contact the manufacturer of the Travel-tot Kit. We have, since then, heard from them and they have given a little more detail as a comment. The best part is that they have also offered a 20% discount to readers of this blog. When ordering from their site, quote a coupon code of TRAVELERS.


  1. Hi, this is a great article. We have found that the adaptive sports centre in Colorado is very good at accommodating our clients, and highly recommend them. We recently did an article on them at Recreational Therapy Jobs.

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