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Summer Camp Programming for Teens with Autism

teens with autism thrive in specialized summer camp programming

Summer is an exciting time filled with opportunities for growth and exploration, especially for teens with autism. Specialized autism summer camp programs offer a unique environment where these teens can thrive, learn, and build essential life skills.

The partial hospitalization program (PHP) at Family First Adolescent Services is a day program that provides teens with mental health treatment before they return home at night. Our treatment center and adolescent treatment programs are safe and compassionate, the perfect place for teens to work on new skills during the summer. Call 888.904.5947 to find out if your teen could benefit from treatment today.

Autism May Be More Common than You Think

About one in every 36 children has autism, which means many families are affected by it.1 Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) doesn’t just impact one area of a child’s life; it can affect their entire development in areas like social interaction, communication, and behavior.

Without treatment, autistic children and teens can have trouble in school, making friends, and managing daily life. However, with the right support and resources, those on the autism spectrum can thrive and reach their full potential.

Is Your Teen Neurodivergent?

The autism spectrum is wide and diverse, meaning every individual on it is unique. Some individuals with autism may also have intellectual disabilities or physical challenges, while others may excel academically or in certain areas of interest.

It’s important to understand that being neurodivergent, including having ASD, does not mean someone is broken or needs to be fixed. Instead, it means they simply process information differently and have different strengths and challenges than their neurotypical peers.

If your teen has received an autism diagnosis, finding treatment can help them learn to navigate the neurotypical world around them. If not, some signs that your teen may be neurodivergent include difficulty with social interactions, repetitive behaviors or routines, and sensory sensitivities.

Social Skills Are Especially Challenging for Neurodivergent Teens

Neurodivergent teens often struggle with social skills, making it challenging for them to make and keep friends. This can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and even depression. Social skills are crucial for healthy relationships, communication, and success in school or the workplace.

Treatment for autistic and neurodivergent teens often includes social skills training, which helps:

  • Recognize and interpret social cues
  • Understand appropriate boundaries and personal space
  • Develop self-awareness and empathy
  • Practice effective communication and conflict resolution

By learning these skills, teens can build confidence and improve their relationships, making it easier for them to navigate the world around them.

How Summer Programs for Autistic Teens Work

Summer programs for autistic teens offer a structured and supportive environment where they can learn and grow. These programs typically include a combination of therapy, education, and recreational activities designed specifically for those on the autism spectrum.

At Family First Adolescent Services, our PHP includes individual and group therapy sessions led by trained mental health professionals. These sessions focus on building social skills, managing emotions, and developing coping strategies to deal with daily challenges.

The educational component of our program provides academic support to help teens stay on track with their schooling during the summer months. This can include tutoring services, assistance with homework assignments, or even credit recovery programs for those who need it.

Benefits of Summer Programs for Autistic Teens

Attending an autism summer camp program can provide numerous benefits for teens on the autism spectrum, including:

New Experiences

Summer programs offer a chance for teens to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. This can help build confidence, self-esteem, and independence. Some neurotypical programs might not be equipped to handle the unique needs of teens with autism—or may cause distress for them—so specialized programs are the best option.

Teens at Family First can participate in new activities like:

  • Recreational activities, like paddleboarding the inlet at our South Florida center
  • Equine-assisted therapy, where they can bond with horses and learn valuable life skills
  • Expressive art therapy, letting teens practice new skills in creative outlets

Activities at our center are guided by experienced professionals and designed to help neurodiverse teens explore new interests in a supportive and structured environment.


Summer programs for autistic teens provide opportunities for socializing with peers who understand their challenges. This can be especially beneficial for those who struggle with making friends or feeling isolated during the school year.

Family First’s therapy sessions also include group activities where teens can practice social skills, like communication and conflict resolution, in a safe space. This can translate into improved relationships with family members and peers outside of the program.

Evidence-Based Therapy

Specialized summer programs also offer evidence-based therapy modalities that can help teens with autism develop essential life skills. These therapies may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and family therapy.

Through these therapies, teens can learn how to manage their emotions, communicate effectively, and build resilience in the face of challenges. These skills are crucial for navigating the social and academic demands of everyday life.

Continuity of Care

When summer ends, and it’s time to transition back to school, there can often be disruptions in therapy or other support services that were being received during the academic year. However, by attending an autism summer camp program, teens can continue receiving necessary treatment and support in a seamless manner. This continuity of care can be crucial for maintaining progress and avoiding setbacks.

Call Family First Adolescent Services Now

Summer programs for autistic teens offer a unique opportunity for growth and development in a supportive and structured environment. At Family First Adolescent Services, we understand the challenges that come with raising neurodivergent teens. That’s why we provide compassionate and individualized care to help them thrive.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us online or at 888.904.5947 today to learn more about our treatment programs and how they can benefit your teen this summer. Our PHP is a specially designed co-ed program for boys and girls 13–18. We also offer a residential program for boys of the same age group that allows for 24/7 care at our secure campus.


  1. Autism Speaks – Autism Statistics and Facts