Aspire Child Programs
Explore Our Programs
Aspire programs are designed for children and young teens who identify with an ASD, Asperger’s or similar social profile. Participants come to Aspire with a broad range of abilities, interests and personalities, and they all have the potential to grow and change. Success and personal growth look different in every child we serve.
At Aspire, we create a space where our youngest participants feel safe, supported and empowered to take risks and step outside of their comfort zones. Our process begins with Aspire staff getting to know each participant as an individual and learning more about their unique strengths and abilities, areas for growth, goals, and special interests.
Through our multi-disciplinary approach, our experienced staff help participants to build a healthy self-awareness; to learn to recognize and manage their own stress and anxiety in an effective way; and to understand the give and take of social communication. For our child participants, new and emerging skills may include developing and learning to use self-calming strategies, creating “mind files” to make meaningful connections with peers, maintaining a flexible mindset, perspective-taking, self-advocacy and learning to compromise in a group setting.
Aspire’s year-round child programming includes weekly social groups, summer camp, school vacation camps and special events. To view our current child programming schedule, click here.
Child groups meet during the academic year, once per week for 75-90 minutes. Participants are “matched’ in a peer cohort of four to eight kids, led by Aspire staff. By placing participants in small, similar-age peer groups, staff are able to provide “real-life” opportunities for learning and skill-building around special interests that are inherently motivating to our participants. Aspire group leaders use the excitement and motivation of these shared passions to teach and practice skills through structured activities and with the support of real-time feedback.
Group themes may change annually. Examples of child group themes include engineering, collaborative games, girl’s group, group video gaming and connections group.
Special events and school vacation camps provide additional opportunities for our young participants to make new connections, practice emerging skills across settings, and learn from shared experiences. Aspire staff provide structured fun using highly motivating activities to facilitate engagement in a group setting.
We are proud to be an American Camp Association-accredited camp.
Aspire's summer Adventure Camp is a six-week program for children ages 5-13 years old. Campers are placed into similar-age peer groups of four to six participants, each supported by two Aspire staff. Campers participate in a rich weekly schedule full of typical camp activities, such as swimming, music, fishing, boating and art. Like all of Aspire’s programming, participants receive direct instruction and in-the-moment social coaching to support skill building in the areas of self-awareness, stress management, and social competency. Aspire staff create a safe and supportive environment in which campers can learn, grow, make social connections, express themselves, feel successful and have fun.
In collaboration with families, campers identify personal goals at the beginning of camp and receive daily feedback from staff about their progress. Group leaders communicate with parents and caregivers weekly to provide regular updates to families. At the end of the program, staff provide an “end-of-camp-summary” for each child that includes a summary of progress made with personal goals; an evaluation of skills (i.e., social competency, stress management and self-awareness); and concludes with a list of strategies/methods that were the most helpful for the participant during camp.
Camp is located at Hale Reservation in Westwood, Massachusetts. This beautiful campus provides 1,137 acres of woodlands, including four ponds and over 20 miles of trails. This is the perfect backdrop to facilitate a summer full of adventures.
Aspire summer Adventure Camp is divided into three age groups:
Adventure Camp, Ages 7-13 years old
The majority of campers fall into our Adventure Camp age group. Camp participants enjoy structured days filled with fun outdoor camp activities like swim lessons, archery, ropes course and movement. Aspire’s therapeutic curriculum teaches and reinforces skill-building in the areas of self-awareness, stress management and social competency. Individualized and group-based goals are consistently targeted throughout the day through Morning Meetings, peer and staff feedback, and in-the-moment social coaching.
Adventure Camp Junior, Ages 5-7 years old
Appreciating that a full Adventure Camp day might be too long for our youngest campers, junior camper daily activities are modified to meet the developmental level and physical capabilities of younger children. Each fun-filled half-day is designed to encourage social interaction and focus on what it means to be part of a group.
Adventure Trailblazers, Ages 12-13 years old
Campers entering their teen years are often ready to take on new challenges and consider future-oriented goals. Through our Leader-in-Training (LIT) program, Trailblazers will hone more advanced executive function, self-awareness, and independent living skills while defining their own personal brand of leadership. Trailblazers are given the opportunity to participate in many typical Adventure Camp activities alongside leadership training experiences, including pre-vocational community excursions, Buddies mentorship program with younger campers, management of the Aspire camp store, and community service projects.