From Autism Transition Handbook
While the vast majority of recreational programs across the state for individuals with autism are designed for children and youth, there are some that offer programs through adulthood. These include drama, music, equestrian services, rock climbing and karate. Some Arcs provide recreational activities/clubs, for adults or can provide information for starting up groups specificaly for adults. See the list of recreation providers for more information.
Traveling is strenous today even for the most experienced travelers. For a child or adult with autism, leaving the comforts and routines of home can be difficult. Hotels are slowly starting to offer more autism friendly accommodations for individuals with autism. At the center of this change is the Center for Autism & Related Disorders at the University of South Florida, or CARD-USF, which is working with local hotels in Tampa, Florida to establish standardardized criteria for an "autism-friendly" hotel.
According to CARD, the following criteria make a hotel autism-friendly:
- Make all lighting adjustable with dimmers to accommodate travelers who have light sensitivities.
- Provide temperature controls in rooms.
- Ensure that all guest room doors have locks on the inside. Put alarms on all exit doors.
- Many children on the autism spectrum are on restricted diets, whether because of food sensitivities (to taste, texture) or because of allergies. Provide mini fridges in guest rooms so that parents can store their own food and drinks.
- Bolt down some decorations and amenities, such as lamps, televisions, and telephones.
- Outfit balconies and/or windows with locks and/or keypads for safety. Many children on the autism spectrum have difficulties with spatial recognition, which could reduce their fear while on a balcony or near a window.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaning products and provide frill-free decor. The more basic, the better.
- Provide extra blankets and pillows. The extra weight simulates the feeling of a "hug" for some on the spectrum, and thereby ensures a more secure and restful sleep.
- Bathtubs in guest bathrooms are preferable to showers
Autism Friendly Hotels:
There is a website dedicated specifically for travelers with autism: http://www.autisticglobetrotting.com/
Sensory Friendly Movies
AMC and the Autism Society offer sensory friendly movies once a month in theaters around the country. These are up-to-date movies that are shown in an autism-accepting, safe environment. During these movies, the lights are kept up, the sound is turned down, and there are no previews or advertisements prior to the feature film starting. Families are allowed to bring snacks in from home and anyone can talk, sing, or dance during the movie. Movie ticket prices are $4-6 a show, depending on the individual theater.
For more information, see the Autism Society website
In Pennsylvania, sensory friendly movies are available in Allentown, Bensalem, Philadelphia, West Chester, and West Homestead.
In October 2011 the Autism Theatre Development Fund (TDF) launched a new program, Autism Theatre Initiative, to make theatre accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families. This program is part of the Theatre Development Fund's Accessibility Programs (TAP). The show, LION KING, was performed for the first time at New York's Minskoff Theatre in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. Slight adjustments to the production included reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby there were staffed quiet areas and an activity area, for those who needed to leave their seats during the performance. A downloadable social story (in Word format) with pictures of the theatre and production was available several months in advance of the performance which was designed to personalize the experience for each attendee with ASD. Tickets were offered through TDF at affordable prices with the top ticket price being $79.00. For more information contact, the Autism Theatre Initiative.
Many learners with ASD have certain areas of interest or specific topics that he or she really likes, for instance, math, LegosTM, animals, machines, or a specific videotape/DVD. As part of the transition planning process consider how individual interests might be used to help your son or daughter develop contacts outside of the classroom. Some interests (i.e., hobbies) have related organizations that meet socially--Yu Gi Oh!TM or Magic: the Gathering® clubs, science fiction clubs, computer/technology clubs, chess clubs, military history clubs, and so on. Introduce your young adult to these groups and encourage his participation. The ability to meet new people based upon a similar interest and expand his potential support system can be extremely helpful as your young adult gets older.
State funded recreational and social activities are limited in Pennsylvania for adults with Autism. If the adult has a dual diagnosis-intellectual disabilities with ASD, there are some community habilitation opportunities (not recreational) that may be funded by ODP waivers (riding, art, drama, music therapy). ODP is very clear that they will not fund any "recreational" or "therapeutic" activities. They will in some cases provide funding for therapeutic activities if there is a prescription from a physician and if ODP has a denial letter from the adult's Insurance Provider.
These ID/DD activities are available for the public to review at: HCSIS Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) https://www.hcsis.state.pa.us/hcsis-ssd/pgm/asp/PRSSD.ASP
Autism Delaware has events year-round for families who have children with autism. Events include rollerskating, bowling, picnics, horseback riding, and get-togethers. Events are throughout the state. For an more information, check out the Delaware Events Calendar These events may be best suited for younger children with Autism.
Rec4All is a program started by Autism Delaware. In this program, events are open to the entire disability community. For example, if Autism Delaware is sponsoring bowling, they will open the event up to any person with a disability and their family. For a list of Rec4All events, check out Rec4All Events Calendar.